For a half, the big upset seemed like a possibility as the Central Red Devils took a lead over No. 1 Carver-Montgomery into halftime.
But the Wolverines showed in the second half why they are on top of the Class 6A poll on their way to a 78-66 victory in the Central Regional final at the Alabama State Acadome.
“I thought coming into the game we had a good game plan,” Central coach Bobby Wright said. “We wanted to try and let them beat us from the outside, so we packed our defense inside. The other night (in a close win over Enterprise) they didn’t shoot the ball real well, but tonight they brought their ‘A’ game because they shot a lot better.”
The Red Devils, who led 36-35 at halftime, pulled to within one, 41-40, on a Jonathan Curry basket in the paint with 5:58 left in the third quarter.
But the Wolverines scored the next 13 points to take a 54-40 lead with 1:24 left in the period.
“When our big guys got in foul trouble, their big guys took over,” Wright said.
Central managed to trim the deficit to nine points, 58-49, on a Shantoine Levy basket with 6:09 left in the game. But Carver put the game out of reach with a 7-0 run for a 65-49 lead with 4:15 left in the game.
For the Red Devils, the loss ended an unexpected run in the postseason. Central began the season 9-1 and ranked in the top 10, but then injuries took its toll and the Red Devils lost all four games to Area 7 foes Opelika and Auburn.
But Central found some postseason magic and won the area title as well as winning the sub-regional against Northview and the regional semifinal against Jeff Davis. It was Central’s third straight trip to the regional final.
“This was a surprising season,” Wright said. “I am really proud of the fact that they fought through all the adversity to make it here.”
Thursday at Montgomery
Wallace 8, Dickerson 9, Barnes 4, Shantoine Levy 20, Curry 7, Word 2, Emerson Hollis 12, Pugh 3, Thames 1
J.Johnson 8, Ron Smith 10, Cornelius Ferguson 16, Craig Sword 24, R.Johnson 8, Pitts 4, Patton 8Records: Central 21-10. Carver-Montgomery 33-1. Next: Central season over. Carver-Montgomery Thursday in state semifinals at Birmingham