CENTRAL BASKETBALL: Panthers pull away from Dragons

Players watch a loose ball during Central’s 51-38 win over Dallas on Friday night.

Photo by Lukas Eggen
Players watch a loose ball during Central’s 51-38 win over Dallas on Friday night.

INDEPENDENCE — Central’s boys basketball team was looking to make a statement at home.

Mission accomplished.

The Panthers defeated Lebanon 63-51 on Jan. 18 before earning a win over Dallas 51-38 on Friday.

Peter Mendazona scored 18 points to lead the Panthers against Lebanon. Peter Mason added 14 points; Alec Barba scored 12 points; and Andrew Barry recorded 10 points.

All but six of Central’s points against Dallas came from three players. Mendazona scored a game-high 17 points — despite leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Barba scored 16 points, and Mason scored 12.

“People can talk about getting excited for rivalry games,” coach Tim Kreta said. “Unless you’ve experienced it and gone through it, it really doesn’t mean anything. I think both communities came out and fully supported their teams. It was a great battle, and I think our kids got a taste of some very competitive basketball. Dallas always brings everything.”

Against the Dragons, late in quarters Central was content to wait until a Dallas defender challenged them when Central’s guard would drive in and either dish it out or drive to the hoop.

“That’s the way we want to finish quarters and halves,” Mendazona said. “We let them come get us and we drive to the middle. It spreads the defense out. We can get to the free-throw line if they foul us. It’s a tough offense to guard.”

It’s an offensive scheme that gave Dallas trouble in the second half.

“Peter (Mason) has matured as a point guard,” Kreta said. “He knows what his job is. If he gets by, he only has one guy to beat.”

With strong offensive performances from Mason, Mendazona and Barba, the team buckled down and grabbed rebounds at a high clip in the second half.

The Panthers (7-6 overall, 3-1 Mid-Willamette Conference) hope to continue making a statement. Central plays at Corvallis Wednesday (today) at 7 p.m. The Spartans enter the matchup with a 4-1 mark in league play. The Panthers play at Woodburn Friday at 7 p.m. before hosting Silverton Tuesday at 7 p.m.

“Every game gets tougher from here on out,” Kreta said. “You enjoy a win for a night. then you prepare for the next game. We’re going to see what we’re made.”


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