A Polk rivalry renewed

Central boys get best of Dallas, 53-39



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Central point guard Chan Bal dribbles behind his back against the defense of Dallas' Landon Hattan on Monday.

INDEPENDENCE -- After a lackluster first quarter for the home team, the Central boys basketball team needed a spark in a matchup against Dallas that hadn't happened in about 15 years.

Tanner Omlid's soaring, one-handed jam to open the second frame sure did the trick.

"I think that got us going, got the crowd going, got our blood pumping, adrenaline flowing -- it was great," Central point guard Chan Bal said of the dunk, which sent the packed crowd into a frenzy.

Behind the scoring of Omlid and a strong supporting cast, Central came out on top with a 53-39 victory over visiting Dallas in the nonleague nightcap Monday.

In the girls opener, Dallas was a 53-21 winner.

It was the first time the two schools, located less than 10 miles apart, have faced off in basketball since the 1996-97 season, according to Central athletic director Shane Hedrick.

The sentiment among just about all in attendance is that needs to change.

"I think it's been 10 years since these two teams have played, and for me, being a Dallas graduate ... these communities need this," Central coach Bob McBeth said.

"We'll be going back over there next year, and I think both communities need that, it's a fun atmosphere, and it's always going to be a good game between Dallas and Central."

The Dragons (3-1) certainly made it interesting early.

Behind three tough inside buckets from Brady McKinley (10 points), Dallas jumped out to a 14-4 lead after one quarter.

That's when Central -- namely Omlid, signed to play with West Point next fall -- took over.

The 6-foot-4 senior scored 11 of his 23 points in the second period to ignite a 25-6 run to end the half, putting Central up 29-20 at the break.

Photo by Pete Strong

Central's student section lets a Dallas free-throw shooter know they're in hostile territory during the first half of Monday's 53-39 nonleague victory by the Panthers.

"The Omlid kid is a good player," first-year Dallas coach Jim Boutin said of the senior, who shot 8-of-12 from the field and added six rebounds and three blocks. "He's quicker than I thought. We tried four different guys on him and none of them could stop him."

Combined with the heady play of Bal (seven points) and junior Branden Cutsforth (nine points, five rebounds) doing work down low, the Panthers (3-0) spent the second half in a four-corner, slow-down offense to keep Dallas at bay.

All five of Cutsforth's boards were offensive.

"It feels really great -- I mean the rivalry happened when we were just kids," he said after the win. "To come out there and play the way we did was just really great for our confidence and building for the future."

Landon Hattan led the Dragons with 13 points and McKinley added five boards and a block in the loss.

"I was proud," Boutin said. "The kids played hard and they tried things hard and we were just a little bit behind.

"They did a nice job of spreading us out and taking advantage of an offense they ran very well."

Central picked up two other wins last week, a 68-46 victory over North Marion on Friday (Bal led with 23 points) and a 61-54 win over La Salle last Wednesday (Omlid netted a game-high 35).



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