By Les Dixon
RUPP ARENA – Trailing 54-53 with less than six minutes remaining in the game, Montgomery County turned up its defensive pressure and went on a 15-2 run to knock off Warren Central, 71-63, in first round action of the 96th Annual Boys Sweet Sixteen Thursday.
The Indians connected on seven straight shots during the final quarter, and received key baskets by both Omar Prewitt and Bryan Wallace down the stretch. Prewitt scored five of his game-high 29 points and 11 rebounds during the game’s final eight minutes while Wallace scored 10 of his 17 points during the same stretch.
“They are a heck of a team,” Montgomery County coach Happy Osborne said of Warren Central. “(I give) credit to our kids to withstand the third quarter barrage. It felt like a landslide. We started rebounding and were able to pull it out.”
Prewitt said the Indians’ defensive pressure got to the Dragons in the end.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” he said. “Our pressure just gets to teams late.”
Both teams showed some nerves early on, but Warren Central managed to take an 8-3 lead with 5:11 remaining in the first quarter after a three-pointer by Nathaniel Walker. Montgomery County caught fire at the end of the quarter and took a 17-14 edge behind a nine-point effort from Prewitt, who also added a dunk during the period.
The Indians continued to remain red-hot in the second quarter by putting together an 11-2 run to begin the period. Julian Piersawl recorded an old-fashioned three-point play on a steal while Prewitt and Wallace each added three-pointers to give Montgomery County a 28-16 edge with 5:06 left in the first half. Warren Central managed to make the score, 33-23, at halftime, as Rondell Green scored with :3.7 remaining.
The Indians went through a stretch where they hit five shots in a row in the second quarter while Prewitt finished the half with 17 points. Prewitt was seven-of-11 from the floor during the first 16 minutes, including a two-of-three effort from three-point range.
The Dragons struggled from the floor in the first half, shooting eight-of-20 from the floor, while Indians were 13-of-28.
Warren Central began to heat up in the third quarter behind the play of Byron Carver, who scored 14 of his team-high 20 points during the quarter. The Dragons took advantage of Montgomery County misfiring on seven of its first eight shot attempts and briefly took a 46-45 lead after a basket by Wayne Baird with 1:56 left in the period. The Indians quickly regained the lead after baskets by Tyler Jones and Prewitt, but Warren Central’s Chris Porter-Bunton, who finished with 18 points, scored at the buzzer to cut Montgomery County’s lead to 51-50 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Indians began to open up some cushion in the final quarter of play. After falling behind 52-51 at the 6:52 mark, a basket by Piersal trigged an 8-1 run that saw Bryan Wallace score four straight points, giving his team a 59-54 edge with 4:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Prewitt hit a big three-pointer with 3:48 remaining that increased his team’s lead to 62-56 while Wallace came up with two straight baskets, including one on a steal, pushing Montgomery County’s lead to 66-56.
The Dragons managed to cut the Indians’ lead to single digits, but could never regain the lead.
96TH Annual Boys Sweet Sixteen
at Rupp Arena
Montgomery County 71, Warren Central 63
Montgomery County 17 16 18 20 71
Warren Central 14 9 27 13 63
Montgomery County (71) – Prewitt 29, Jones 3, Hall 9, Jones 4, Wallae 17, Piersawl 7, Combs 2.
Warren Central (63) – Porter-Bunton 18, Carver 20, Green 8, Walker 5, Dickerson 8, Baird 4.