It’s all systems go for Central Cougars, who take 27-0 mark into regional play

News-DemocratFebruary 10, 2014 

Finding a weakness in the Central Cougars during the 2013-14 season has been a little like searching for the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot.

At 27-0 and ranked second in the Class 2A state basketball poll, Central is seemingly a team without a weakness and focused on the reaching the ultimate goal — one game at a time.

The 2012 Class 2A state tournament runner-up, Central will begin its postseason journey Tuesday when it plays either Roxana or Marquette in the semifinals of the Wood River Regional.

And while it would be easy for Central to look ahead to a possible sectional title game showdown with Nashville next week, coach Nathan Rueter’s squad is focused on first things, first.

“We are focused on winning a regional, and beyond that we will worry about it when it gets here,’’ Rueter said. “There are always concerns going into the tournament, but I really like where we are at as a team mentally.

“We come into the gym focused as a group every day. I have never had a team as focused and consistently good like this team has been all year. They are very businesslike, no matter the opponent.’’

Rueter also has never had one more dominant. Led by the trio of seniors Torre Kohrmann and Maddie Timmermann and sophomore Kendra Wilken, the Cougars have had just three of their games decided by fewer than 10 points.

Central has outscored its opponents by nearly 26 points per game. The Cougars are averaging 58.5 points per game, while allowing only 32.6 per contest.

The 6-foot, 2-inch Wilken, quickly developing into one of the top post players in the state, leads Central in scoring at 17.8 ppg, while the athletically gifted Timmermann (15.6) and spark-plug guard Kohrmann (11.6) also average in double figures.

Timmermann and Kohrmann were starters on the Cougars team which finished second in 2012, while Taylor Rakers (4.4) was a key reserve.

The difference maker in Central’s postseason run this year could be Wilken.

While only a sophomore, Wilken possesses advanced skills on both ends of the court.

“Kendra has developed nicely, and will continue to do so,’’ Rueter said. “Her size and mobility are rare, she has a chance to be a special player.

“It hasn’t been a big surprise. A lot of her success comes from the fact that we have five kids on the floor that are all willing to share the ball.’’

Rueter said there are three main factors that play into Central’s success. The Cougars are competitive, unselfish and defensive-minded.

“Our balance, as I previously stated, has been a big key to our success,’’ Rueter said. “Any night we have five players on the floor that are capable of getting into double figures, and a couple of those kids can be counted on for 15 or 20.’’

Central faces a probable matchup with league foe Carlyle in the regional title game Thursday at Wood River.

The winner of the Wood River Regional will advance to the West Frankfort Sectional On Feb. 18.

Rueter said the fact that Central hasn’t played many close games, is a bit of a concern.

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