Central High School boys' basketball's January turnaround continued into February Friday night. Taking on rival Tullahoma, the Red Raiders remained undefeated in 2019 with a 63-49 victory over the Wildcats. With Lincoln County's loss this evening, the boys had more to celebrate by winning the regular season district title.
"It's a great night. We were able to get a lot of guys in in the third quarter and let everyone get some experience," Coach Micah Williams said. "The guys played extremely well. It's a rival game, the crowd was fantastic tonight.
In Williams' estimation, this the first CHS district title in several decades. While the team knew there was a chance that this could happen with a home win and a Lincoln County loss, they played it down during the game to avoid distraction.
"It was on the back of my mind against Lincoln County, it wasn't tonight," Darius Rozier said. "It's my senior night, it's my last regular season game here. I was nervous coming in, I was emotional, but my team picked me up."
CHS started hot out of the gate. Rozier hit nine out of the Raiders' first 10 points, with a free throw coming from Harley Hinshaw to put the Raiders ahead 10-2. A bucket from Kyle Farless expanded the CHS lead to 12-4 after one.
After the Wildcats hit a three-pointer to open the second quarter, Farless and Rozier pushed the Raiders ahead to 17-7. CHS held onto its double digit lead through the end of the quarter, taking a 29-15 lead into halftime.
The Raiders continued to build on their lead in the third quarter. The team was able to spread the ball around further, with six different Raiders bringing in at least two points. By the start of the fourth, CHS had taken its largest lead of night at 47-27.
The Tullahoma offense began to come alive over the course of the game's final minutes. The Wildcats hit 20 points, tightening the CHS lead to 56-47 with 1:25 remaining. A pair of throws from Shawn Anderson put the boys back ahead by double digits and the Raiders kept it that way for the game's remainder.
"The way we play, the way we hustle, the way we rebound, the way we play defense, I love this team," Rozier said. "This team is one of the best teams. We can compete with anybody."
Rozier had another big night, leading the Raiders with 29 points. He was followed by nine points from Farless, just ahead of Hinshaw's eight. Chase Simpkins finished with six points. Anderson, Jaxon Vaughn and Rod Brinkley all had three points each. CJ Anthony hit a pair of free throws in the third for two points.