Boys Basketball

Central hopes to continue its run through first Class 3A postseason

Central senior talks win over rival Mater Dei

Central senior forward Jack Strieker talks about the Cougars' 49-41 win over the Mater Dei Knights.
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Central senior forward Jack Strieker talks about the Cougars' 49-41 win over the Mater Dei Knights.

A regional champion in its debut season in Class 3A, Central (26-4) takes on Centralia (20-9) in a semifinal round game at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Class 3A Benton Sectional.

The Cougars, who defeated Civic Memorial 44-43 in the title game of the Civic Memorial Regional on Friday, have won 24 of their last 25 games after starting the season 2-3. Wednesday, they will face an Orphans team that plays a schedule heavy with Class 3A-4A opposition.

“I think what has really helped us in going from Class 2A to Class 3A this year is that we’ve got seven seniors on this team who have played a lot of basketball,” Central coach Jeremy Shubert said. “I think a lot of our success stems from that experience and the fact that we’ve had great balance all year. We’ve different players step up frequently and lead us in scoring on a given night.”

The Benton Rangers (30-2), also making the transition to Class 3A, have home-court advantage when they take on Cahokia (20-10) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the first semifinal. The semifinal winners meet for the sectional title at 7 p.m. Friday.

Central, led by Jack Strieker’s 12 points, had three players in double figures in the win against Civic Memorial. Kolby Schulte (13 ppg) leads the offense, while Strieker (11.4) and Tyler Joest (10.3) also average in double figures.

“They’ve got a great program and they are well coached. It’s just a very good basketball team with several players who can score,” Centralia coach Lee Bennett said of the Cougars.

Centralia defeated Murphysboro 47-27 on Friday to win its regional title.

Javon Williams scored 17 points and Dawson Berry added 12 for Centralia. Both Berry (16 points, 6 rebounds) and Williams (16 points, 9 rebounds) lead the Orphans offense.

“They are very athletic and Lee (Bennett) does a great job in coaching his team,” Shubert said of the Orphans. “They like to get out in transition, but they are disciplined enough in the half court offense to where they will take a minute or more off the clock until they get a screen to where they can get the shot they want.”

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean