Kitt sparks Central in victory over Tyrone

By Jon Fleck

For the Mirror

TYRONE — After Central scored just 12 points in the first half against Tyrone Friday, Braden Kitt kick-started the Scarlet Dragons offense with 17 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, but it was his play on defense late in the game that nailed down the victory.

Central (16-4) led 49-48 with 10 seconds remaining and Colby Liebal on the free throw line for a 1-and-1. Liebal missed the first one.

Tyrone’s Damon Gripp grabbed the rebound and quickly found Brandon Lucas in the paint for a potential game-winning shot.

Three Central players surrounded Lucas, however, and Kitt swatted away the shot. Liebal grabbed the rebound, was fouled with two seconds left and made the free throws this time to preserve a 51-48 win.

“At first, he had a wide open layup,” Kitt said. “Three of us collapsed on him, and he put it right up for me to block. If he would have pump-faked, I would have fouled him.”

Tyrone thought Lucas was fouled on the play but didn’t get the call that would have put sophomore forward on the line for a chance to win the game.

“We certainly had our chance their at the end, but unfortunately, we didn’t get that call,” Tyrone coach George Gripp said. “We battled back, made it interesting there in the last couple seconds, but we came up a little short. We left a lot of points on the floor in the first half. We were up six but should have been up way more than that.”

Tyrone (13-8) led 18-12 at halftime, but Central dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Golden Eagles 19-6 for an eight-point edge after three quarters.

“The first half we turned the ball over left and right. We had wide open shots, but wouldn’t shoot it. Our defense kept us in the game, but I was upset at halftime,” Central coach Reggie Nevins said.

Kitt knocked down a trio of 3-pointers and finished the quarter with 13 of the team’s 19 points.

“Everyone picked it up in the second half. It was one of those nights I couldn’t shoot in the first half, but the second half, I just felt it. Must be that hoop down there,” Kitt said, pointing to the basket on the visitor’s side of the floor.

Noah Muthler’s 3-point play to open the fourth quarter put Central up 10 at that point, 34-24.

After the teams traded points throughout most of the final quarter, Thad Albright put in a layup off Muthler’s inbounds pass out of a timeout with 48 seconds remaining to give Central a 49-41 lead.

That’s when Tyrone started to rally.

Cortlyand Rhoades was fouled on the ensuing possession taking a 3-point shot and converted all three foul shots to make it a 5-point game with 37 seconds left.

The Golden Eagles then got a 4-point play on its next possession. Landen DeHaas hit a 3-pointer and was fouled during the shot. He put in the free throw, pulling Tyrone to within a point.

“We told the guys at the timeout when we were up eight that they need four 2s to tie us. So no 3s,” Nevins said. “Then we foul a 3-point shooter twice in a row. They got seven points in two possessions. Those were two really poor plays on defense.”

Muthler finished with 10 points, and Albright added eight. DeHaas led Tyrone with 12 points. Gripp, Rhoades and Blaine Hoover all had nine points.

The two teams close out the regular season next week then play each other again at Central in the District 6 4A semifinals. Tyrone won there earlier in the season.

“We’ll watch a lot of film. We’re going to do some things differently going forward,” Gripp said. “We know its going to be a battle. It’s a tough place for us to play. It’ll be packed. It’ll be hard to hear, but we’re up to the challenge. We’re looking forward to it.”

CENTRAL (51): Muthler 4 1-1 10, Kitt 7 1-3 20, Albright 4 0-1 8, Kling 0 0-0 0, Klotz 2 0-1 5, Liebal 2 2-3 6, Rolle 0 0-0 0, Boyles 1 0-0 2. Totals — 20 4-9 51.

TYRONE (48): Gripp 2 5-5 9, Lucas 2 2-2 6, DeHaas 4 2-3 12, Hoover 3 0-0 9, Ferguson 1 0-0 3, Rhoades 2 3-3 9, Moon 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 12-13 48.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Central 7 5 19 20 — 51

Tyrone 8 10 6 24 — 48

3-point goals: Central 7 (Muthler, Kitt 5, Klotz); Tyrone 8 (DeHaas 2, Hoover 3, Ferguson, Rhoades 2).

Records: Central (16-4); Tyrone (13-8).

JV: Tyrone, 63-56. High scorers–Liebal (C) 17; Rhoades (T) 22.

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