Century, Woodlawn advance to final four @ SV
Centurions rally from 17-points down, edge Galatia; Cardinals rout rival Waltonville
Johnston City, Sesser-Valier advance

SESSER - If this were a NASCAR race the Galatia Bearcats would have racked up a lot of points for leading laps.

However when the checkered flag came out, it was Century getting to the finish line just in time to win the quarterfinal match up.

Using injured All-state candidate Josh Tabb for the first time this season, Coach Andy Palmer saw his team erase a 17-point second half deficit to beat Galatia, 76-75 to advance to the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament semifinals.

The story out of the Century camp was that Palmer wouldn't use injured player Josh Tabb unless he 'really needed him.'

But with his team struggling on both ends of the court and down 50-43 with 3:59 to go in the third quarter, Palmer sent Tabb onto the court in a game for the first time since last February.

Coming off of wrist surgery, and still having one of the two pins inserted into his wrist still in place, Tabb helped spark his team late in the game.

His 10-points in the fourth quarter, along with four steals, helped the defending champion Centurions survive a major scare to advance to Monday's semifinals.

Teammate Ray Nelson, who has carried the scoring load so far this season for 7-1 Century, got a lot of help on this day from Tabb, especially in the fourth quarter comeback. The two players combined for 17-of-the-24 Century points in that final frame.

C.J. Williams hit the game-winner for Century with just :32 left on a rebound of a Nelson miss.

Galatia nearly pulled the upset on this day but could not get off a good shot in the final moments.

"We were very fortunate today to get this win," said Coach Palmer. "The way we played, we probably shouldn't have won this game. "He got us going on the press and helped us with some steals. Just his presence there helped us a lot. We are a long way from being a good ball-club."

Derek Sloan, who scorched Marissa-Coulterville the day before with 51-points, followed up the Friday effort with 28-points.

Century managed just one lead early in the game as Nelson scored on a lay-up after the opening tip.
But Sloan got going, scoring eight points in succession.

His second of two-straight 3-pointers sent the Bearcats to an 11-4 spread with 5:45 left.

But then Nelson started handing out assists like a 'salesperson hands out business cards.'

The benefactors of his passes in the early going were JR Nicholson and Brantley Stricker.

Stricker's lay in after a pass from Nelson cut the margin to 14-10.

But later in the frame, Sloan picked up five points on one trip down the court. Getting fouled hard in the lane by Century's Curt Spaulding, an intentional foul was called.

After canning both of the charity tosses, Sloan took the inbounds pass and stroked his fourth 'trifecta' of the quarter, expanding the lead to 22-12.

Rob Reichert and CJ Williams scored from in close for Century to close out the quarter at 24-18.

With Nelson getting a rest to start the second quarter, the Centurions managed to keep the score close.

Spaulding hit a driving lay up in transition and hit 1-of-2 free throws to trim the lead back to 26-22.

But it was Sloan and teammate Seth Cockrum that hooked up for Galatia's first ten points of the quarter.
After scoring on a backdoor cut to the basket to start the frame, Cockrum canned his only 3-pointer of the game from the left side just seconds after Sloan drilled home one from the top of the circle to keep Century at a 10-point distance.

Nelson, Nicholson and Williams scored the games next six points for Century.

But Galatia continued to score at will, with Cockrum finishing off a conventional 3-point play on a nice pass from Sloan.

His made free throw, after Nicholson had picked up his third foul, got the lead back to eight at 42-34.

Spaulding scored the last two points of the half to cut the margin down to six.

But during the break, the brain trust for Century decided it was time for Tabb to make his 2003-04 debut.

"I hated to us Josh (Tabb) but we needed him and he gave us a spark," added Palmer, who got permission from his mother at halftime to use him if needed. "He just makes such a big difference for us when he is out there."

Just before Tabb's entrance into the game, Nelson scored six of the Centurions' points in an 8-0, highlighted by a steal and a windmill dunk that cut the Bearcats lead to 50-43 with 3:59 to go, forcing Galatia coach Rod Wallace to burn a timeout.

However with Tabb in the game, the Bearcats quickly took off on another scoring blitz that had Century back on its heels.

Justin Wood scored six points during Galatia's 12-0 run during Tabb's first 2:10 on the floor.

Wood's final shot of that run was underneath the basket on a nice feed from Sloan.

With just 1:49 remaining in the third quarter, Galatia had its biggest lead at 62-47.

But while the Bearcats were smelling blood, they were also staring at a near empty gas tank.

Century, with a fresh Tabb on the floor, caught fire by scoring the games next nine points.

Nelson, Spaulding and Reichert (3-pointer) hit for baskets to get the game to the final period at 62-52.
Nelson then scored just seconds into the quarter after a Tabb steal and assist.

Galatia's Wood hit a miraculous shot from behind his head while being fouled by Nelson to momentarily stem the tide.

But after he missed the free throw, Tabb got himself in the scorebook in a hurry.

He scored six points on two lay ups (after Galatia turnovers) and a pair of free throws, which cut the lead down to 65-62.

Sloan and Eli House hit 'back-to-back' 3-pointers to up the lead back to 71-62 for Coach Wallace's club with 5:10 left.

But despite running nearly a minute off of the clock after a Century turnover, the Bearcats started showing signs of fatigue by again turning the ball over on a five-second inbounds violation.

After a pair of Spaulding driving lay ups sandwiched around Wood's last basket, Century had its chances to seize the lead earlier than it did. But they couldn't convert from the foul line as they made their final move a slow, nerve-racking one for this coach and their fans in attendance.

Tabb scored on move in the paint to cut the lead to 73-71 with 2:31 left, but he failed to convert his free throw attempt.

However on the rebound, Nelson got Cockrum to commit his fifth personal foul with 2:31 remaining.

Subsequently Nelson missed both free throws.

After getting the rebound, Sloan fittingly scored Galatia's final points on a driving lay in with 2:02 left.
Tabb finished out his 10-point quarter with a quick score in close to the basket with 1:56 remaining to cut the Galatia lead to 75-73.

Galatia got the ball up the court to Sloan after the Tabb basket.

But the sure handed junior guard fumbled the ball near the center line (and while diving for the ball) was called for his fifth personal foul.

"At that point, we didn't have anyone left of the floor that could handle the ball," said Galatia coach Rod Wallace, who saw his best two players join him on the bench in less than a minute of playing time.

Spaulding hit the second of two free throws from the Sloan foul to cut the lead to one point with 1:23.

After yet another miscue by Galatia, Nelson took the ball hard to the basket, and his shot fell off the rim and into the hands of Williams, who had not been heard from since the third quarter.

Williams' shot off the glass gave the Centurions their first lead since the opening moments at 76-75.

Galatia had two separated possessions with a chance to win the game, but with Sloan and Cockrum on the bench, no one could find the range.

Three missed shots in the final seconds helped get Century into the semifinals Monday.

"We made some defensive plays there at the end and got some stops that we needed," added Palmer. "But other than Josh (Tabb) and Ray (Nelson) we are very inexperienced and it showed out there today."

Nelson finished with 27-points for Century while Tabb ended up with 10, all in the fourth quarter.

Spaulding ended up with 13-points and Williams added nine.

Besides Sloan's 28, Cockrum finished with 19 while Wood ended up with 13.

Galatia will play Waltonville Monday at noon in the fifth place bracket while Century looks at a rematch with Woodlawn, a team that gave the Centurions their toughest game of last season's tournament, at 1:30 pm.


Galatia (75) - Wood 6 0 1-1 13, Cockrum 7 1 2-3 19, Moore 2 0 0-0 4, Sloan 4 6 2-2 28, House 1 2 0-0 8, Hodson 1 0 1-1 3.
2FG-21, 3FG-9, FT-6-7, PF-22.
Century (76) - Spaulding 5 0 3-4 13, Nelson 8 0 11-15 27, Williams 3 0 3-5 9, Stricker 2 0 0-0 4, Nicholson 2 0 0-0 4, Reichert 2 1 0-0 7, Tabb 4 0 2-4 10, Britt 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-27, 3FG-1, FT-19-28, PF-13.
Fouled Out - Galatia (Sloan, Cockrum)

For the better part of this season, the Woodlawn Cardinals' success rate was an equation of Burns + Pool = Win.

When these two guards have played well for Coach Shane Witzel, the Cardinals have won.

But according to this coach, the supporting cast is getting much better, especially on the defensive end of the court.

Getting 24-points from guys 'not named' Burns or Pool, Woodlawn took the wind out of the Spartans sails early and cruised to a 65-47 win.

Burns scored 26 points, including 11 in the opening quarter, to keep the Cardinals chances at the S-V title alive.

Pool added 15 for Woodlawn (8-4) while Jeremy Wilton pitched in 10 points, including a couple of key baskets in the third quarter when the Cardinals really got some distance between themselves and their long-time rivals from West Jefferson County.

"Our other kids stepped up and played well for us today," said Witzel, whose team has reached the final day of the event for the second-straight season. "We wanted to get off to a good start today and Derek (Burns) got us going by hitting some shots in the first quarter."

Spotting Waltonville an early basket by Jon Kash, the Cardinals erupted for 13-straight points.

Burns had eight of those points while Pool nailed his first 3-point attempt and Jeremy Clinton scored on a shot in the paint.

By the time Burns hit a 15-footer from the right corner the Cardinals led 13-2.

Six-eight sophomore Brandon Spotanski tried to keep the Spartans in the game by scoring seven points in the period.

His conventional 3-point play while being fouled by Clinton got Waltonville within 18-12.

But Jody Kabot, who came off the bench to spell Clinton who had two early fouls, scored on a back door cut on a pass from Burns to make it 20-12 at the first horn.

Adam Kitowski got the Spartans to within six at 22-16 with a 3-pointer at 6:48 of the frame.

But Burns drilled a 3-pointer on the next trip while Wilton hit the first of his two-second quarter shots.

His second one finished off the quarter giving Woodlawn a 33-22 lead at intermission.

"Our bench gave us some good minutes in the second quarter.

We knew that they were going to attack us inside a little bit. Our problem was that we can't drop down off of their two guards to help out.," added Witzel. "But our guys held their own and we did a better job in the second half."

Gradually the Cardinals defensive pressure in the half court wore down the Spartans in the third quarter.

The final Woodlawn run in that frame that put the game out of reach was led by Pool.

He hit a pair of 3-pointers in less than a minute that pushed the advantage to 47-30.

His second shot started a 9-0 run, which featured a nice post move by Dustin Gholson; another mid-range shot by Burns and a Wilton fast break lay up on an assist by Burns.

By the time the Spartans shook off that last run, Woodlawn had its biggest lead of the game at 53-30.
Despite six more points by Spotanski in the final quarter, Waltonville could get no closer than the final score.

"We wanted to make them (Waltonville) work at getting the ball to the post." finalized Witzel. "Our guys battled in there the entire game and kept fighting. These kids play hard on the defensive end every night and when you do that you are going to have a chance to win."

Spotanski topped the Spartans (3-5) with 17-points while Jon Kash cashed in nine and Jordan Norris added eight.

"We were simply outclassed today," said Waltonville mentor Mike Denault, whose team lost for the second time in two meetings with Woodlawn. "I said this before but Burns and Pool are the two best guards that we have seen this year. We didn't have any answers for them either time that we played them."


Woodlawn (65) - Wilton 4 0 2-2 10, Burns 8 1 7-9 26, Mellott 1 0 0-0 2, Clinton 3 0 0-0 6, Gholson 1 0 0-0 2, Pool 2 3 2-2 15, Kabot 2 0 0-0 4.
2FG-21, 3FG-4, FT-11-13, PF-17.
Waltonville (47) - Lowery 0 0 0-1 0, Kluck 0 2 0-0 6, Kitowski 0 2 0-0 6, Kash 4 0 1-1 9, Norris 2 0 4-8 8, Ralls 0 0 1-2 1, Spotanski 8 0 1-3 17.
2FG-14, 3FG-4, FT-7-15, PF-13.

The Indians are making the most of their first trip back to the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament after a five-year hiatus.

Coach Randy House got a tournament 'break-out' game from Kyle Baker and cruised past Vienna to advance to the semifinals.

Baker scored 23-points while hitting all six of his free throws for the 8-3 Tribe.

Josh Dean followed Baker with 14 while five other players scored at least five points.

Vienna placed three players in double-figures with Bryan Waters leading the way with 17. Corey Huckleberry added 11 while Vince Steele pitched in 11.

Johnston City broke open a 28-all deadlock at the half by outscoring the Eagles 41-28 the last two quarters.

The Red Devils received 20-points from Alex Kramer in the quarterfinal win.

Joe Motsinger threw in 12 for S-V.

Shane McGuire topped the Blackcats with 16.