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The Rams knock down five 3-pointers early in the second half to punch ticket to Chiles Center

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Central Catholics Darius Gakwasi goes up for a close-range two against Sandys Kaleb Hubbard during the Rams 66-43 second-round playoff win Friday.

Second-round playoff

Team Score
#5 Central Catholic Rams (21-5)
Sandy Pioneers (17-9)

Central Catholic sophomore Darius Gakwasi knew it was time to shine when he came out of the halftime locker room to spark the Rams to a 66-43 runaway win over Sandy in Friday's second round of the 6A boys basketball playoffs.

After seeing their league foes get a couple shots at the lead late in the second quarter, the Rams stretched the margin to six points before the halftime horn.

A Sandy fast-break chance rolled off the rim, and Central went the other way where Gakwasi drew contact on his way to the hoop and buried both free throws.

Still, Gakwasi and the rest of the Rams were not satisfied with a 26-20 lead.

"That gave us some momentum, but we went into halftime realizing we needed to give it a second push," Gakwasi said. "Sandy is a good team, but we knew if we did that they wouldn't be able to hang with us."

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Central Catholics SataieVior Ayilola makes a move along the sideline.

It happened fast.

Gakwasi sank a pair of 3-pointers from the left side, Tyson Parker added another deep ball, and Gakwasi shifted over to the other side of the floor and drilled another triple.

Within minutes the Rams had the lead up to 16 points, and the Chiles Center was coming into focus.

"We needed a little bit of energy, so I thought I'd take on that leadership," Gakwasi said. "My shot wasn't falling in the first half, but then the hoop started looking really big."

With the margin growing, emotions on the court began to flare. Most notably after Central Catholic center SataieVior Ayilola watched a Sandy player drive the lane with a flurry of moves only to block his shot out the corner of the court.

Central Catholic held for the final shot of the quarter and cashed in with Ayilola driving the baseline and spinning the ball off the glass to send the Rams into the fourth quarter up 19.

Central Catholic (21-5) advances to face Metro champ Jesuit (20-6) in the quarterfinals at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Chiles Center.

"The tournament is a whole new season, and we're going to give everybody our best shot," Gakwasi said.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Central Catholics Tyson Parker drives the baseline during the first half of the Rams home win Friday.

The Rams put all five starters into the scorebook four minutes into the game on their way to a 16-8 first-quarter lead. The highlight came with Sandy coach Jason Maki shouting 'Be ready for the dunk,' from the sideline, but it was already too late. Isaiah Amato floated a pass toward the rim and Ayilola flew to the basket and threw down a rim rattler.

Sandy got back into contention when Kaleb Hubbard sank 3s on back-to-back possessions, letting his arm hang in the air while looking back to the Pioneers' student section which was jumping in the bleachers.

Central looked to pound the ball inside to Ayilola on the offensive end, but he was quickly surrounded by three black shirts and shuffled his feet for a traveling violation.

Sandy had a chance to move in front, but Gakwasi swiped the ball away along the baseline, and Amato answered with a corner 3 at the other end.

The Pioneers would have another chance at the lead a few minutes later, but a 3-pointer clipped the back rim and bounced out.

View photos at …

6A boys second round

Friday, March 1

SANDY 8 12 8 15 — 43

C. CATHOLIC 16 10 21 19 — 66

Sandy (43) — Kaleb Hubbard 17, Roeder 10, Carson 4, Gorski 4, Johns 3, Adovnik 2, Brewster 2, Powell 1, Robinson, Murphy, Black, Chamberlain, Hoecker.

Central Catholic (66) — Darius Gakwasi 20, Ayilola 15, Seamster 11, Parker 8, Amato 8, Gold 2, Bostic 2, Ainslie, James, King, Johnson.

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