Madison Central, ranked as high as number two in the state this season, enters the 11th region tournament as one of the most talked about teams in the state. From a team that not many gave a chance to win the region back in December to a team that throttled Male, a top 5 team at the time, defeated #1 Trinity, and a top 10 team in Lexington Catholic all in the span of a couple of weeks. Led by Dustin Gerald averaging 16 a game and big man Isiah Cozart who is averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots a game they face Bryan Station in the opening round. The Defenders started the season as the surprise team going 16-2, they defeated the Indians twice during that run. Once in the Berea Holiday tournament and once at home. In the two games Cozart averaged 13 points and Gerald 14, but they couldn’t stop Eric Boone who averaged 27.5 in the two games. Boone averages 20 points on the season. You know the old saying, it’s hard to beat a good team three times in a season, well the Indians are out to prove it true tonight.
This one started with Bryan Station knocking down their first two shots, both three pointers but the Indians used a 6-0 run and went up 8-6. Eric Boone ties it at 8. The teams trade three pointers and Station uses a 4-0 run to lead 15-13 after a quarter. Indians had 5 turnovers in the quarter and Dustin Gerald had 7. Defenders shot 5-15 including 3 three pointers. Four ties and two lead changes in the first. Indians tie it up for the fifth time to begin the second quarter. Station retakes the lead and with Central in a zone they decide to sit on the ball and take the last shot, Eric Boone has it taken away by Isiah Minter but he misses a layup but Dustin Gerald is on the spot and with an offensive rebound and put back with one second left in the half put the Indians up 24-22 at the half. Dustin Gerald with 14 points at half to lead all scorers in the game. Myles Morones with 8 to lead Bryan Station.
Second half saw the Indians go a 6-0 run to start and lead 30-22. A timeout and a three from Boone cuts it back to five. Cozart with a basket but the Generals behind Eric Boone outscore Central 16-7 to tie the game once again heading to the final quarter..or so we thought. Boone with 10 points in the third as the Defenders hit three three pointers. Back and forth in the fourth quarter but with 3:36 left Isiah Minter missed two free throws that would have tied the game at 46. Moments later a scary sight as Minter hit the floor hard and had to be helped off the court. Fortunately he comes back and will prove valuable as the game goes on. Jalen Burbage, with station up 48-46 had a chance to extend the lead but he misses two free throws and with :45 seconds left Cozart ties it 48. Station with a chance to win it regulation but they can’t. We are tied at 48 heading to overtime. The game saw 11 ties and 11 lead changes to this point. Isiah Minter with 18 points and Cozart with 8 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks at the end of regulation. Eric Boone with a triple double for Station, 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
In the first overtime Gerald gets it going with a basket but Boone an Burbage knock down two free throws each to put Station on top 52-50. Gerald once again being the leader on the floor scores Central 5 points to put them up 55-52. Terr Clayton-Murphy and Boone knock down free throws to tie it 55. We head to a second overtime and once again the Indians behind basket and free throw from I. Minter take the lead, but not to be outdone Boone answers with his own old fashioned three point play to tie it at 58. With 1:22 left Jacori Miller, who did not score in the game, took a charge resulting in a turnover and giving the Indians a chance to win it in the second OT. Both teams can’t score for over 3 minutes and we head for a third overtime!! Stop me if you’ve heard this..Indians score first behind a three from Gerald. I. Minter really stepped up huge this OT knocking down 10 free throws in the OT. Burbage knocked down a couple of three pointers but with star player Eric Boone fouling out with 1:52 left they run out of gas and the Indians win a thrilling game 73-64.
For the Defenders Boone finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists. Clayton-Murphy with 20, Burbage had 14, and Myles Morones with 10. For the Indians Isiah Minter with 31 points, 17-22 from the free throw line, 5 assist and 4 rebounds. Gerald with 28, and 12 rebounds. Cozart just missed his own triple double as he finished with 8 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots. Kenyon McKee with 6 points. Gerald, Cozart, and Minter each play 44 minutes. With the win Central now sets it’s sight on a semi-final match-up with all A champion Lexington Christian Saturday afternoon at 1:30.