Chargers rout Dukes in quarterfinals

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Central High School varsity boys basketball team picked a great time to break precedent in a big way.

The No. 4-seeded Chargers got their first win of the season over Cumberland High School on Monday, routing the No. 5 Dukes 76-49 in the Conference 42 tournament quarterfinals.

The Chargers visit No. 1 Mathews High School in the semifinals on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Central had faced Cumberland twice earlier this season, falling 55-52 at home on Jan. 21 and losing 57-47 on the road on Feb. 3.

Those results gave little-to-no hint that Monday’s 27-point blowout was coming, but Chargers Head Coach Mike McGrath noted that defensive strategies played a big role in the result.

“In the first half, we were able to break their 1-3-1 zone, so in the second half, (Dukes Head Coach Tyrone Mosby) changed up his strategy on us. He got out of that, and we decided to stay in man(-to-man) defense, and we were able to take advantage that way.”

The coach said Central used a zone defense in the first quarter, but Cumberland seemed like it was shooting well from three-point range, so the switch to man defense came in the second.

The Dukes won the first period 18-15, but the Chargers held a 36-31 lead at halftime, a 53-44 lead after three quarters and they outscored the Dukes 23-5 in the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t let them drive the lane,” McGrath said. “We forced them to take some jumpers that they couldn’t hit, and we beat them on the boards.”

Central’s scoring output of 76 points was its most this season.

Junior guard L.J. Watson led the Chargers with 21 points. Other key offensive contributors included senior forward/center Raymond Alexander, with 18 points, senior forward Tylik Thomas, with 15 points, and junior forward Darryl Jones, with 14 points.

Central (6-16) now turns its focus to Mathews in a rematch of last year’s conference semifinal, which the Blue Devils won

McGrath said it was a tight game, adding that Mathews still has its main players from that contest, and the Chargers have a largely similar lineup, with only a couple of exceptions.

“They’re very athletic,” he said of the Blue Devils. “It’ll be a tough game. We have to play well.”

Senior guard/forward Stuart Anderson Jr. is a major force for Mathews.

“If we can slow him down, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win,” McGrath said.