Warriors win close one over Shelby

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 23, 2005

For three quarters Friday night, the Central Christian Academy Warriors didn’t know what to do with Shelby Academy senior center Justin Kleplin.

After all, the 7-footer swatted away Warriors’ shots as easy as a new windshield wiper disposes of rainwater.

So when the fourth quarter rolled around, the Warriors tried

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something different. They couldn’t go around or through Kleplin, so they decided to go over him.

Or even better, shoot when he wasn’t near the ball.

Central Christian sank several short jumpers and made their free throws down the stretch to beat Shelby County, 56-48, in the CCA gym.

The victory improves the Warriors to 16-2 overall and 7-0 in the region.

Leading 46-44, the Warriors went on a 10-2 run to put the game away.

After having two shots swatted away by Kleplin earlier, Andre Pearson got the run started when he ran toward the big center, stopped and drained a 16-foot pull-up jumper with 1:34 to go.

Felix Baker halted Shelby’s next possession when he intercepted a pass along the sideline. He sent a bounce pass to Bud Smith, who was quickly fouled. Smith drained both free throws to extend the CCA lead to 50-44 with 1:19 to go.

“I’ve been telling those guys that free throws and rebounding down the stretch is going to win games,” Central Christian coach Carl Rawls said. “I told them to stop before they got to the big guy and take the short jumper. Andre Pearson was hitting his shots on the perimeter when we really needed them.”

Bradley Savage and Tee Woods also sank two free throws apiece in the final minute for the Warriors.

Along with the important regional victory, Rawls also took satisfaction in knowing that his team can play well in a close game.

“A game like this builds character and understanding,” he said. “The bottom line is, we got the ‘W.’ When you can come out of a game like this with the win, its says a lot about your team.”

The contest was close throughout, with Shelby Academy leading much of the way. The visitors went on a 6-0 run early in the second period to take a 17-12 lead. Guard Marcus Jones fueled the run with a three-pointer from the left wing. Josh Kervin added three charity shots.

Central rallied to knot the game at 17, but three-pointers by Kervin and Jones built Shelby’s lead back to 23-17. Shelby lead 25-21 at halftime.