Dragons hold off Gators, claim top district tournament seed

Warren Central now controls its own destiny.

The Dragons, who came into Friday night’s District 14 matchup with Greenwood needing a win to secure the No. 1 seed for the upcoming District 14 Tournament, took care of business and achieved that goal by earning a 60-52 win over the Gators on Senior Night at Warren Central High School.

Now, Warren Central (20-6 overall, 7-1 District 14) – who’ll face No. 4 South Warren in the tournament semifinals – can just close out its regular season and not have to worry about what position it’ll be in to open the postseason.

“It’s good,” Warren Central coach Will Unseld said. “It’s a peaceful weekend. Don’t have to worry about the coin flip and the draw and all that stuff. Basically, we determine our own fate now. Not saying we won’t go get beat in the first round, but we at least know what we’re doing and know what we’ve gotta get ready for this last week and go from there.

“This 14th District – especially the way the district is this year – it’s exciting to be the one seed just because of how tough it was this year.

Dre Boyd finished with 18 points to lead the Dragons, while Tayton Smith made four 3-pointers and scored 14 points and Kobe Brents added eight.

Ben Carroll scored 20 points, and Cade Stinnett tallied 18 to lead Greenwood (15-12, 4-4), which will be the No. 3 seed and face No. 2 Bowling Green in the semifinal round.

“They made big shots,” Greenwood coach Will McCoy said of Warren Central. “I thought we competed tonight. It was a very slow-tempo game, 14-18 at the half. That probably played a little more into our favor than theirs, but we knew they were gonna try to speed us up. I give Coach Unseld and those guys a ton of credit for how they schemed us defensively.”

The two sides were tied 4-4 early, but Warren Central found a rhythm and used a 10-0 run – and a Jaiden Lawrence 3-pointer – to lead 14-4 after the opening quarter.

Greenwood bounced back in the second, scoring 10 points and holding the Dragons to just four to cut its deficit to 18-14 at halftime.

A pair of Stinnett free throws, followed by a layup from Carroll, helped the Gators tie it at 18-18 just 58 seconds into the third quarter. Stinnett hit another at the line to give Greenwood a 19-18 lead, but Smith answered with a 3 to put Warren Central back in front.

Brents’ triple made it 28-23 – and Boyd converted an and-one – to give the Dragons an 8-0 run and a 31-23 advantage at the 4:05 mark, and they later led 38-30 entering the fourth.

“They’re a really good basketball team,” Unseld said of Greenwood. “When you play a team like that, that can score the way they do, they’re always in the game – no matter what it is. So, it’s a big win for us – a good win for us. Good to get it on Senior Night and get a good win at home.”

Carroll’s deep ball brought Greenwood within 47-40 with just over four minutes remaining, but Smith fired right back with one of his own to put Central up 50-40.

Carroll scored on back-to-back possessions to get the Gators within 52-48, but Smith remained hot and knocked down two straight 3s to put the Dragons up 58-48 and seal it.

“It was just coming out, beating them and getting the one-seed,” Smith said. “Makes things easier on us. We do what we have to do – late-game situation, we turned up on ‘em. When the first one went in, I knew I had to shoot the next one to help my team get out of the little funk we were in. We just came out of it.”

GHS –      4    10   16   22   —   52

WCHS –  14    4    20   22   —   60

GW: Ben Carroll 20, Cade Stinnett 14, Parker Williams 8, Marc Grant 6, Noah Stansbury 2.

WC: Dre Boyd 18, Tayton Smith 14, Kobe Brents 8, Jaiden Lawrence 6, Antonio Barbee 4, Geovonni Floyd 4, Jessie Wright 4, Tegra Muleka 2.

Girls: Warren Central 49, Greenwood 48

A big fourth quarter and a buzzer-beating put-back layup by Kenneddee Robinson led the Warren Central girls’ basketball team to a hard-fought 49-48 District 14 win over Greenwood on Friday night.

The Lady Dragons (10-17 overall, 4-4 District 14) trailed 38-27 entering the fourth quarter but outscored Greenwood 22-10 – and used Robinson’s basket – to record the exhilarating victory.

La Auhnni Lewis led Warren Central with 20 points, while Krisheanna Johnson finished with 12.

“I tell the girls all the time, ‘You don’t look at the clock – I do,’” Warren Central coach Joe Hood said. “They didn’t look at the clock one time. I know there was one time I looked up there and we were down 13 and I never even hesitated. I knew the girls we’re gonna do exactly what it was.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen in District 14 from here on out, but we did everything that we could control tonight.”

Kayla Grant finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Lady Gators (11-13, 0-8).

Greenwood started hot and used a Megan Une and-one to take a 9-2 lead at the 4:26 mark of the first quarter. Kyleigh Ray’s 3-pointer cut Warren Central’s deficit to 13-9 late in period, but the Lady Gators led 17-11 after eight minutes of action.

A steal and layup by Lewis brought the Lady Dragons within 19-18 at the 5:19 mark of the second, and Taelor Leach’s put-back made it 23-22 with 2:06 remaining in the half. However, Greenwood closed it with a 6-0 run to go up 29-22 at the break.

Grant was already up to 16 points and nine rebounds at the break, while Lewis had scored 10.

Back-to-back baskets by Grant and Annee Lasley put Greenwood up 34-24 at the 5:32 mark of the third, and the Lady Gators ultimately took a 38-27 lead into the final quarter.

Lewis scored five straight points to trim Warren Central’s deficit to 42-39 at the 4:56 mark of the fourth, and a score by Johnson brought it within 42-41 with 3:32 remaining.

Another bucket by Johnson later gave the Lady Dragons their first lead of the night with 1:04 to go, but Lasley scored on the other to end to put Greenwood back in front 48-47 with 25.9 seconds left. Then, with just seconds left, Robinson recorded her put-back to send Central out on top.

“I was like, ‘I gotta box-out, I gotta get this for my team,’” Robinson said. “It’s Senior Night, I gotta just finish this out for my seniors. We just worked together. We just talked it out, we huddled together and decided, ‘We’re gonna do this.’”

GHS –     17   12    9   10   —   48

WCHS –  11   11    5   22   —   49

GW: Kayla Grant 19, Leia Trinh 12, Annee Lasley 6, Olivia Lovell 4, Megan Une 3, Haley Gordon 2.

WC: La Auhnni Lewis 20, Krisheanna Johnson 12, Kyleigh Ray 8, Taelor Leach 6, Kenneddee Robinson 3.

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