Panthers dropped in first round by Summit

Central’s Peter Mason dishes a pass against Eagle Point.

Photo by Lukas Eggen
Central’s Peter Mason dishes a pass against Eagle Point.

BEND — Central’s boys basketball team wasn’t going down without a fight. The 13th-ranked Panthers were on the road facing the fourth-seeded Summit Storm on Saturday in the first round of the state playoffs.

After trailing by nine in the first quarter, the Panthers tried to close the gap, including rallying to within two in the fourth quarter after a pair of 3-pointers from Andrew Barry. Each time, Summit did just enough to hold on for a 53-47 win.

“It was a great game and the kids played extremely hard,” coach Tim Kreta said. “We didn’t get the start we were hoping for, but they kept fighting. … That’s a really good team that we played. We were in a position to finish out the game, but missed a couple of shots. We were aggressive on defense, but couldn’t quite match that aggressiveness on the offensive side, and I think we settled for jump shots a bit in the second half.”

Summit provided some matchup issues early on, with several tall post players making life difficult for the Panthers.

“We needed to make some defensive adjustments because they were so big,” Kreta said. “They had guys who are 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-5. We had to increase the ball pressure to give Andrew Barry and Brendan Lesmeister any time in the paint.”

Senior Alec Barba scored a team-high 15 points against the Storm.

Central advanced to the first round by defeating Eagle Point 65-50 in the play-in round on Feb. 28. The victory allowed the Panthers, which lost 54-49 to Woodburn on senior night on Feb. 24, to give players a chance to give its seniors one final win at home.

“It’s big, especially after the way we finished the previous two games at home,” senior Peter Mason said. “To win the last game we’ll play (at home) it means a lot to us.

Central will see several key contributors graduate, including Barba, Mason, Will Cable and Barry, but Kreta hopes that the experience returning players gained will help fill the void.

“Our seniors are going to be hard to replace,” Kreta said. “But you hope that the younger kids seeing the older kids play and experiencing the ebbs and flows will be able to take this and grow from it. We’ll have guys like Peter Mendazona. Lesmeister had a great breakout year. Isaiah Abraham is a great, defensive guy. We’ll have some building to do, but we’ll have kids who have been in this spot before.”

The Panthers finished the season with a 13-12 record overall.

“I’m proud of the way the kids have battled,” Kreta said. “I think everything happens for a reason. The kids went out and did everything we asked them to do. I don’t regret anything we’ve done, and I don’t think our kids do either.”


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