Chargers fall in semifinals

Published 12:49 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A difficult season for Central High School’s varsity boys basketball team concluded Feb. 15 with a 68-56 road loss to No. 1 Mathews High School in the Conference 42 tournament semifinals.

Chargers Head Coach Mike McGrath said the “difference in the game was rebounds as we had our season low at 18, and we averaged 34 this year.”

He said effort was not the issue for his team against the Blue Devils.

“They just had two really good guys that play on the inside,” he said, adding that one of them will likely be named the conference Player of the Year. “They matched up pretty good with us.”

Momentum proved to be a big factor, particularly at outset of the second half.

“Mathews had a(n) 8-0 run to start (the) third quarter,” McGrath said. “That was tough to overcome.”

Leading the fifth-seeded Chargers in scoring for the game was junior guard L.J. Watson, who poured in a career-high 31 points. Junior forward Darryl Jones added 10 points, and senior forward/center Raymond Alexander chipped in eight points.

Central finished the season with a 6-17 record.

“We should have won at least or four more games than we did,” McGrath said. “It was just (a) tough schedule. We had a chance to pull off some games, and for whatever reason, things didn’t go our way in the end. That’s basketball, though. But I had a great group of kids, always had plenty of fight in them, never gave up in any game we played.”

Graduation will claim two starters, Alexander and forward Tylik Thomas, as well as forward DaQuan Cleaton.

Some key players will return, though, including Watson and the tallest player McGrath said he has ever coached at Central.

“We’ve got a junior named Ethan Hoover who’s 6 (feet) 6 (inches) and won’t be bad at all,” the coach said.