BREESE — When Jacob Timmermann is breaking down defenses like he did Saturday, the Central Cougars are going to be celebrating a lot more victories.
The junior point guard fired in 18 points and hit eight of nine shots as Central upended rival Mater Dei 54-45 in the third of four meetings between the teams this season.
"We couldn't stop him," Mater Dei coach Brian Perkes said. "We had no answer for him. None."
Urged by Central coach Stan Eagleson to slow things down, Timmermann was up to the challenge. When Timmermann wasn't scoring, he was setting up teammates and finding open men.
"He did whatever he wanted," Perkes said, "He took us to the basket, I think he hit a 3 or two, he posted up. I told the kids after the game we've certainly got to find an answer between now and a couple weeks when we play them again in the regional. He's the kid that really beat us."
Averaging 9.4 points before Saturday, Timmermann admitted having extra motivation from playing the Knights (13-11). He sat out a 32-21 loss to Mater Dei at the Nashville Invitational Tournament with a leg injury.
The defending 2A state champion Cougars (17-8) scored 33 more points with Timmermann back in the lineup. Why are some of his best games against the Knights?
"It happens every year just about. I don't know," he said. "I just felt like everything was going in tonight, I kept trying to shoot and get my teammates open.
"We kind of know what everyone's going to do. Like (Mater Dei guard Adam) Etter, he's like my best friend but I know what he's going to do all the time. He still had a good game tonight."
So did the Cougars, who hit 64 percent of their shots (21-of-33) and drained six of their 10 3-point field goals. Justin Becker and Austin Rickhoff added nine points each and Luis Perez had eight as the Cougars finally boasted a healthy starting lineup.
Eagleson liked what he saw from everyone wearing purple, but especially Timmermann.
"The first game up at Teutopolis he played really well, but other than that this was easily his best game of the year,' Eagleson said. "What we talked about was slowing down, trying to play a little bit slower, read what your teammates do, read what the defense does and then make your move.
"He was much more under control tonight."
Central led 28-23 at halftime and 39-35 after three quarters, but Etter kept the Cougars from running too far away with 13 points. Eric Vandeloo added 12 in a strong game for the Knights, who crept within a point with 3:30 remaining before their comeback hopes were sunk at the foul line in the final few minutes.
Becker was 5-for-6 at the line in the fourth quarter after Central missed its first six free-throw attempts in the game.
Central won the first meeting 47-35 at the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament, but Mater Dei beat the Cougars 32-21 in the third-place game at the Nashville Invitational Tournament.
They will square off again Feb. 20 at the Class 2A Central Regional.
Central created some space between the teams with a 9-0 run at the start of the second quarter to grab a 23-14 lead. Mater Dei answered with a 9-0 run of its own to tie it 23-23, but Central scored the final five points of the half and led 28-23 at halftime.
Timmermann had the hot hand for Central in the first half with 11 points, hitting five of his six shots. Perez had all eight of his points in the first half, including two 3-pointers.