INDEPENDENCE — Central’s boys basketball team lost its home-opener 60-53 to Philomath on Friday. The Panthers also fell to Liberty 58-56 on Dec. 6.

Alec Barba scored 18 points to lead Central against Philomath, while Peter Mendazona added 14, but the Panthers were outscored 27-8 in the first quarter and could never recover from there.

“We had a tough start on Friday,” coach Tim Kreta said. “We had a hard time matching their energy for the first eight minutes. The kids battled the rest of the game, but couldn’t quite make up that difference.”

Barba scored 30 points against Liberty, and Andrew Barry added 13 points.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Kreta said. “We got down early and needed to battle back defensively. We cut the lead to one in the fourth quarter, unfortunately we could not hit a few crucial free throws down the stretch.”

Central went 14-for-25 from the free-throw line.

The Panthers (1-2 overall) play at Stayton on Friday before hosting Cascade Monday at 7 p.m.

GIRLS BASKETBALL FALLS TO GRANTS PASS: Central’s girls basketball team lost to Grants Pass 38-35 on Dec. 6.

Meagan Mendazona scored a game-high 11 points to lead the Panthers, while Lexi Barba and Katelyn Trevino each scored eight points.

Central’s (2-1 overall) game against Summit was canceled. The Panthers play at Stayton on Friday before hosting Cascade Monday at 5:30 p.m. and Churchill on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.

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