Central juniors Clarece Jansen and Carson Newkirk combined for 31 points, and the Cougars defense held Waterloo to just 13 first-half points as it went on for a 56-26 win Tuesday at the Class 3A Central Regional.
Waterloo (11-14) had only one lead, when it was 2-0 in the opening minute of the game. When 6-foot senior Kathryn Finnerty picked up her second foul not two minutes into the first quarter, it opened things up inside for Jansen and Newkirk.
The duo scored 10 of the Central’s 18 first quarter points as the Cougars (16-13) took an 18-2 lead.
“I thought we came out and played well early. Our pressure was effective, and when Waterloo got into a foul trouble, we were able to get the ball down low and get some good shots at the basket. Both players (Newkirk and Jansen) did a nice job tonight,” Cougars coach Nathan Rueter said. “We’re certainly going to have to play better on Thursday to have a chance against Highland.”
The Cougars (16-13) will get their chance to play Highland in the regional title game at 7 p.m. Thursday. Highland defeated Freeburg 59-29 in Tuesday’s other semifinal. The regional winner will advance to the Waterloo Sectional next week.
Finnerty, who along with senior Taylor Augustine led Waterloo with eight points, put Waterloo ahead. Four possessions later Finnerty was on the bench next to coach Matt Lucash.
“We got off to a good start, scored early and had a 2-0 lead. Then with 1 1/2 minutes gone in the game, my best player is on the bench with two fouls. It’s just very unfortunate,” Lucash said.
Junior Faye Meissner added six of her 15 points in the first quarter. The Cougars lead 33-13 at halftime.
Newkirk led Central with 16 points. Jansen also added 15 points.