While he seemed worried a bit with his team playing for the first time in 10 days, Central coach Jeremy Shubert was all smiles Monday following a 45-41 victory over Breese-area rival Mater Dei at the Nashville Invitational Tournament.
It was the 11th straight victory for Central (13-3), the defending tournament champion with six Nashville tourney titles to its credit since 2009. Central is now 11-6 against Mater Dei in their last 17 meetings, including the postseason.
“I’m very proud of the effort after the layoff,” said Shubert, whose team had not played since a 56-36 Cahokia Conference win Jan. 6 over Columbia. “I knew were going to have our moments. Our kids made enough plays at the end to get (a win) back after the layoff.”
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The game was tight throughout, but Central fought back from a third-quarter deficit to get things tied 33-33 headed to the final eight minutes.
Mater Dei got as close as 43-41 when Lucas Theising sank two free throws. However, Strieker hit the first of two free throws with 21.4 seconds remaining and the Cougars also controlled the rebound.
“We played pretty decent at times,” Mater Dei coach Ron Schadegg said. “We’ve just got to find that guy once again that wants to put us on his back when it counts, have some guts to take a shot and make a shot. We did a lot of good things out there defensively, I thought we were really good.”
Central senior Jack Strieker had 18 points and six rebounds, scoring seven points down the stretch to help keep some separation from the Knights (9-5). Strieker also hit five of six free throws in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Joest had nine points for Central and Kolby Schulte had seven, while Mater Dei got 13 points from senior Mason Toennies.