Century boys prevail over crosstown Liberty
Not all wins are created equal.
It had been exactly 41 days since Century's last win, and 49 days since their last league win versus Aloha Dec.13. But all good things come to those who wait, and while the Jaguars certainly would've preferred a shorter waiting period, a win is a win — and they'll take it.
Century defeated crosstown rival Liberty 51-43 Wednesday night, Jan. 31 at Century High School, and while just their fourth victory of the year, Century head coach Scott Kellar couldn't have been prouder of his team's effort on this night, or throughout what has ultimately been a difficult year.
"I thought we battled, and we have all year," Kellar said. "It's unfortunate our record is what it is because we've battled well enough to win more games than we have. Offensively we've struggled, but we put enough together tonight to get this win."
Century guards Brayden Johnson, Ikin Chan, and freshman reserve Edidem Essien combined for 35 points, and defensively shutdown the Liberty duo of Taylor Martin and Nathanael Boyer, who combined for 42 points in the Jags' loss to the Falcons earlier this season.
"Brayden and Eddie played well," Kellar said. "We gave up 42 points to their guards in that first game and I think they only had 14 tonight. We knew that was the number one game key, slow them down and not let anyone go crazy."
The game started slow, with the two teams trading baskets en route to a 11-10 Liberty lead at the end of the first quarter. Century started quickly in the second, getting back-to-back threes from Essien to open the scoring and give the home team a five point advantage. But consecutive baskets from Boyer and Ethan Moody pulled the Falcons to within one, and after another string of back-and-forths, Century took a 25-23 lead to the halftime break.
The third quarter was the Johnson and Essien show, with the two Century guards combining for 10 of the Jaguars 15 third quarter points, and 13 of their first 18 of the second half. Meanwhile defensively, the Jags held Liberty to just two points for much of the third quarter, and by the time junior wing Jarett Boyce scored with time running out in the quarter, Century had a 40-27 lead to start the fourth and was simply tasked with holding-on to preserve the home win.
"We've got some gritty kids and a big guy, Josh, who can cover up some mistakes," said Kellar. "I'd like to think we kind of wore them down a bit."
Which is possible. But it would be an injustice not to point out the significant role Kellar's guards ultimately played in the game's decision.
"Brayden has started to step up lately and he's gotten his confidence going," Kellar said. "And Eddie, what can I say, he plays like a senior sometimes, and sometimes he makes some freshman mistakes. But he's a gym rat, no one is going to outwork that kid. He's going to be quite a player."
Boyce finished with 11 points for Liberty, while Boyer added nine.
Johnson and Essien tallied 13 apiece, while senior post Josh Walkenhorst finished with 11 rebounds for the Jags.
But this win wasn't about individuals, but more about a team and the effort that finally paid off.
"I'm just proud of this group," Kellar said. "They could've easily have kind of packed it in, but that is not in their make up at all. I've never been part of a group quite like it. It's pretty unreal."