In the Championship Game of the 2019 SPIAA League Basketball Tournament, the South Central boys team did something no team had successfully done in at least 38 straight tries.
The Timberwolves beat the South Gray Rebels.
The score was 61-60.
After trailing early by as many as 13 in the first quarter, the Timberwolves rallied back, knocking off last year’s 1A DI State Champions.
“It’s one of those things I tell the boys all of the time: If we do our stuff and run our things the way we’re supposed to, we can basketball games, we can compete with anybody,” South Central head coach Roe Macias said. “It was my fault to start, I tried to put us in a 3-2 zone, that’s not our norm, but when we got back to our full-court man like we run and things we do, it all came back together.”
Senior Austin Jantz had a game-high 21 for the Rebels, including 13 in the second half as the Rebels tried to escape with a victory.
Early on, it was senior Clifton Miller who caused the Timberwolves issues. He had 14 points in the first half, including four 3-pointers that helped the Rebels build their lead.
Miller only finished with 2 second-half points.
Part of what allowed South Central to limit him was schematic adjustments they made. Macias said they ran their normal man-defensive scheme, but junior Owen Alexander was assigned to only stick with Miller, and not help on other players.
Alexander’s 6-foot, 4-inch height gave him a three-inch advantage on Miller.
“We basically just went kind of like a box-and-one, not a box, more like a man-and-one, so yeah, that’s what helped,” Macias said.
In some instances, the Rebels tried to screen, but the Timberwolves defenders switched effectively, in at least one case leading to a Rebels turnover.
Aside from Miller and Jantz, the only other Rebel in double figures was sophomore Aaron Skidmore, who had 18 for South Gray.
For South Central, Alexander had the team-high of 20 points. Junior Xavier Frazier had 16, and junior Chayde Snyder had 14.
In general, the Timberwolves had a good night shooting-wise.
“Xavier was on his game tonight, Chayde was on his game tonight, and it helped the outside guys get open shots,” Macias said. “That’s usually how it works: inside out.”
Saturday’s boys Championship Game closed out the 2019 SPIAA League Tournament. Next up for South Central is a trip to play Kinsley Jan. 29 in Kinsley. The Rebels host Hodgeman County at home that same night.