Central High School boys' basketball came to the Patch Tuesday seeking revenge against Columbia Central. Taking on the team that handed them their first loss on Dec. 8, the Red Raiders held on for a 66-55 victory over the Lions.
"I'm extremely proud of the way the guys fought tonight," Coach Micah Williams said. "Came and brought a lot of energy."
Despite some team members dealing with sickness, CHS was able to take the lead from the first quarter on and stay in control throughout. Strong defensive play and rebounding were critical to slowing down Columbia and allowing the Raiders to stay ahead.
"Defensively we played well, we rebounded the ball well, we didn't turn the ball over a lot," Williams continued. "I think we had 14 turnovers tonight, which in a game like tonight is not bad."
A slow start in the game's first two minutes saw Columbia take a brief lead early, before Darius Rozier's first basket of the night put CHS in front 3-2. Tied at 10 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter, Kyle Farless knocked in a shot, followed by two straight from Rod Brinkley to give the Raiders some breathing room. One more bucket from Rozier gave CHS an 18-12 lead after one. The boys continued to push ahead in the second quarter, taking a 30-16 lead into halftime.
The Lions began to roar back to life early in the second half. Hitting a flurry of three-pointers, Columbia tightened the CHS lead to 38-31 over the course of the third quarter. Starting with a pair of free throws from Rozier with 2:15 left, the Raiders were able to push back to a double-digit lead and head into the fourth up 48-34.
The Lions continued to linger in the fourth quarter, but CHS was able to stay ahead to win by 11.
"Revenge. That's why we came in here, ready to work, Rozier said. "We worked on the weekend, we worked on Monday, we came in just wanting to get a win."
Rozier led the way with 21 points for Coffee County. Farless followed at 13. Brinkley and Harley Hinshaw finished with eight each, with Jaxon Vaughn right behind at seven. Shawn Anderson hit five points, followed by Chase Simpkins with four.