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Warriors dial up defense to put away Wolfpack

Kevin Mays • Feb 12, 2019 at 1:33 AM

NORTON — Wise Central jumped out to an early lead and used a swarming defense to stay in front and advance in the Mountain 7 District boys basketball tournament.

The third-seeded Warriors (14-9) got 20 points from Tyler Vanover and took advantage of 25 Ridgeview turnovers to take a 53-48 win on Monday.

Central advanced to Wednesday’s district tournament semifinals to take on second-seeded Union. The Bears beat Lee 64-59 on Monday.

Their semifinal contest is set for 6 p.m. at Gate City Middle School. The other semifinal pits top-seeded Gate City against John Battle.

ALL ABOUT DEFENSE

The meeting was the third of the season between Central and Ridgeview (11-12), and the Wolfpack came out on top in both regular-season matchups.

This time around, Central was much more defensive, Warriors coach T.J. McAmis said.

“Our defensive effort, by far,” McAmis said in explaining the difference between Monday’s win and the earlier losses.

EARLY SCORING ADVANTAGE

Bolstered by three quick 3-pointers — two from Vanover and one from Elijah Hayes — Central jumped ahead 9-0 in the first four minutes and led 16-5 after the opening quarter.

“That was a result of our kids coming ready to play,” McAmis noted. “That’s kind of been us. We’ve been that kind of a roller coaster.

“But when we decide we’re going to get out and play and we play hard, we’re a pretty good team and that goes on the defensive end as well.”

Vanover scored nine in the opening frame, but he said the key to the game was Central’s defensive effort.

“We knew coming in to it that it was going to be all about defense,” Vanover said. “I know if I have my team behind me, I can hit my shots. But that wasn’t really the thing. I’m just happy to get that win.”

Ridgeview coach Evan McCowan said his team did struggle with Central’s physical play, particularly around the basket.

“The first half of the game it was a really physical game, which it’s going to be at playoff time,” McCowan said. “I think there were times there that Central got some offensive rebounds by their physicality, by pushing our guys underneath and got some boards. I think that was the difference in the first half.”

TIGHTENING UP

Ridgeview took advantage of five straight Central turnovers in the second quarter to spark a scoring run of 13 straight points, and the Wolfpack had pulled to within 32-27 by halftime.

The game stayed close throughout the second half with each team answering anytime the other squad made a run.

RIDGEVIEW LEADERS

Brody Counts led Ridgeview with 13 points and Gabe Brown finished with 12.

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