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Central defends Polk County rivalry

Brendan Lesmeister rises for an attempted score at the Friday game against Dallas.

Photo by Jennifer Halley
Brendan Lesmeister rises for an attempted score at the Friday game against Dallas.

INDEPENDENCE — The Central boys basketball team (7-5, Mid-Willamette Conference, 15-7) showed up Friday evening with an energy they haven’t had the past two games, diving into the game headfirst against the Dallas Dragons (3-9, MWC, 4-17) and coming up for breath with a win, 50-35.

First half, the Panthers drove up and down the court, stringing together a quick set of plays and coming out ahead by 12 points at the end of the second quarter.

“The kids came out and they hit some shots early on, which was really fun,” coach Tim Kreta said. “We stuck to our defensive plan, kinda kept (Dallas) on their toes, got some good turnovers in the first half, and were able to get everybody involved, which is very exciting.”

For the Dragons, the loss hit hard.

“Central played really well; we didn’t play very well at all,” coach Trent Schwartz said. “They’re a physical basketball team, a little more athletic, and that showed. When we did get into the spots we wanted to in the middle, we just didn’t make good passes to open guys.”

The Panther Pit was packed for the Polk County rivalry game.

Central’s band kept the crowd’s energy going, and both team’s mascots, the Panther and the Dragon, took to walking around the gym.

At halftime, the mascots had a contest on the court to see who could score the most baskets, with the Panther winning with 17 shots.

Brendan Lesmeister scored a total of 13 points; Brenden Dedek and Josh Rodriguez contributed eight, with Dedek shooting two 3-pointers.

For the seniors, of which there are seven on the team, this game carried a lot of weight.

“It was a really emotional game tonight,” senior Javier Cantu said. “Last season with all of these guys I’ve been playing with since I was 8 years old.”

Kreta hopes the boys can bring the energy they had tonight for their next two games, which will put them in a spot for the play-in match that precedes the state playoffs.

Regardless of the turnout of the next few games, Kreta seemed happy with Friday’s performance. “That was a good team win,” he said.

Tuesday they travel to Silverton after press time.

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