High School Sports

Central Cougars look for improved offense that could ignite long playoff run

The Central Cougars tuned up for the playoffs by a winning a playoff-caliber road game Friday against a tough opponent.

Senior guard Logan Kohrmann delivered the victory, draining 12-foot baseline jumper at the buzzer to cap an 8-0 run by Central and close out a 38-36 victory over Marquette.

“Logan can be a difference maker and I hope the kids all realize the opportunity they have in front of them,” said Central coach Jeremy Shubert, whose 24-5 team is ranked third in Class 2A and also is the top seed at the Wesclin Regional. “If he can ratchet his game up a notch and everybody else ratchets it up a notch, we’re going to have to have that in the postseason.

“If we can get two others guys outside of Logan in double figures we’re pretty tough to beat.”

Central has won three straight and 14 of its last 16 games. Kohrmann is a handful for opponents with his assortment of moves and ability to score both inside and outside.

Logan can be a difference maker and I hope the kids all realize the opportunity they have in front of them. If we can get two others guys outside of Logan in double figures we’re pretty tough to beat.

Central coach Jeremy Shubert

He’s averaging 17.3 points with 46 3-pointers.

The Cougars’ suffocating defense buys them some extra leeway on offense, but finding a bit more scoring from junior Jack Strieker (8.8 points per game) and senior Chase Schneider (8.3 ppg, 58 3-pointers) would provide a more versatile approach with teams working hard to clamp down on Kohrmann.

Central’s Corben Zanger has also showed much improved play down the stretch along with sophomore center Tyler Joest.

The Cougars saw their impressive streak of six consecutive regional championships end last season with a semifinal loss to eventual state tourney qualifier Mater Dei. Central won the Class 2A state title in 2012 and finished fourth in 2010.

Shubert hasn’t liked his team’s overall focus as much in February following an 11-0 run through January that included a championship at the Nashville Invitational Tournament.

Central won the Class 2A state title in 2012 and finished fourth in 2010.

February has included losses to Mater Dei and Columbia and a near-defeat against Marquette. Shubert said turnovers and missed free throws were costly against Columbia and Mater Dei.

“Are we back to where we were in January? I hope so,” Shubert said.

The other top contenders at the Wesclin Regional are the host Warriors (13-14) and Carlyle Indians (14-16). The longtime rivals meet in the regional semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The teams split two Cahokia Conference games this season and the late-season trends show Wesclin on a bit of a higher path.

Wesclin has won six of its last eight games, with the losses coming to league powers Central and Columbia. Carlyle has dropped five of its previous seven games.

Wesclin’s hopes typically ride on the scoring of senior guard Jarad Steenbergen (13.2 pg, 68 3-pointers), senior center Jake Stephens (11 points, 4.6 rebounds per game) and senior Jared Timmermann (10.3 ppg).

Carlyle’s top scorer is senior Maverick Taylor (12.5 ppg, 69 3-pointers). The Indians have also gotten good production from sophomore Tyler Siever (11.7 ppg) and junior center Connor Toennies (11.6 points, 5.9 rebounds per game).

“I’m very cautious of having to play Wesclin on their home floor and playing them for the third time this year,” said Shubert, whose team won both previous meetings without much difficulty. “We’re definitely not looking past the regional at all. That’s going to be a tough environment to play in.

“With that being said, Carlyle played us very tough at their place the second time. They had two kids that could score down low a little bit and that seems to give us problems at times.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

Class 2A Wesclin Regional

Top seeds: (1) Central (24-5), (4) Wesclin (13-14), (5) Carlyle (14-16)

Favorite: Central

Upset Alert: Wesclin or Carlyle

Analysis: Central has beaten both Wesclin and Carlyle twice in Cahokia Conference play, but Wesclin has improved and the regional is being played in the Warriors’ home gym. Carlyle would have to survive a tough semifinal against Wesclin, then beat Central in the final.

Class 2A Greenville Regional

Top seeds: (2) Nashville (18-10), (3) Greenville (18-11), (6) Gillespie

Favorite: Nashville

Upset Alert: Greenville

Analysis: Nashville has been inconsistent of late, including an attention-grabbing 74-49 conference loss to Pinckneyville. The Hornets still have more than enough talent to escape with regional title led by Ole Miss football recruit Royce Newman (17 ppg) and Brady Bultman (12 ppg), but will face a tough test in Greenville and scoring ace David Holden (21.2 ppg). Nashville edged Greenville 44-41 on Jan. 12 behind 24 points by Newman. Greenville’s top outside threat is Ryan Hutchinson (9.7 ppg, 47 3-pointers). 

Class 2A Dupo Regional

Top seeds: (2) Marquette (19-9), (3) Roxana (19-10), (7) Red Bud (9-20)

Favorite: Marquette

Upset Alert: Roxana

Analysis: Marquette should have a slight edge after beating Roxana 49-43 on Feb. 23, but this one could easily be rated a toss-up given the offensive firepower on both teams. Marquette senior guard Shandon Boone is averaging more than 20 points per game while Roxana senior and Lincoln Land commit Trace Gentry (18.7 ppg) has 100 3-pointers.