Centre wins tourney

December 31, 2004|HAL MORRIS

This is the way Centre College wanted to head into conference play.

The Colonels opened the second half on a 22-8 run here Thursday and went on for a 76-58 win over Heidelberg College in the finals of the Papa John's/Country Hearth Inn Tournament. Centre beat La Grange College 83-56 Wednesday.

"We felt good going into the break, and then you take 18 days off. I didn't know what to expect," Centre coach Greg Mason said. "But this is a group with toughness, with a great basketball IQ. They play well together. It's turned into a fun group to coach."

Junior Coy Zerhusen was named the tournament's most valuable player after pulling down 11 rebounds to go with his 10 points, three assists and three steals Thursday. He had 15 points and 7 boards Wednesday.


"We had a good couple of practices coming in here after Christmas, and we were focused a lot the past two games. It was real important to get us some momentum heading into the conference season," Zerhusen said. "This tournament is real nice to win. But the real season starts after New Year's."

Centre (9-2) hosts Berea Tuesday before returning to Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play Jan. 8 against Sewanee.

Josh Bell also made the all-tournament team for the Colonels. He had 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting with four rebounds and a game-high four assists off the bench. He had a career-high 18 points Wednesday.

The Colonel reserves were big Thursday, scoring 38 points, led by Kyle Christopher with 11 and John Patterson with eight points and five boards.

"This is the way we're going to play, a lot of balance. Four guys in double figures, that doesn't surprise me," Mason said. "When we're at our best is when we have balance."

Starter Matt Nestheide went 8-for-8 at the foul line and finished with 13 points to lead the Colonels.

Defensive pressure extends lead

Centre had a comfortable lead, 38-25, to start the second half, and came right out with pressure that got to the younger Student Princes, who have just one senior on the team. The Colonels had 12 points off turnovers during the decisive run.

"We just knew if we played solid defense and rebounded the ball we could get solid looks on them," said Zerhusen, who had four points, four rebounds and two steals during the spurt. "We knew they were kind of a young team and we had them on the ropes a little bit. We just kept attacking and playing our style of basketball."

After that opening blitz, Centre led 60-33 with 11:49 to play for its largest lead of the game. Six different Colonels scored during the run.

The Colonels also did a job on the glass, outrebounded Heidelberg 46-35, including a 16-11 edge on the offensive boards. That made up for a rough shooting night for both teams. Centre finished 26-for-66, including 8-for-28 from 3-point range, and hit 16 of 20 free throws. Heidelberg was 19-for-56 from the field and hit just two of 15 3-point attempts.

"We didn't shoot great in the half court. But Heidelberg is pretty athletic and gets after you on defense," Mason said. "I thought we played really good defense, and I though that contributed to both teams' low shooting percentage."

Centre led from the outset, jumping out to an early 7-2 lead and going on a 9-3 run to lead 20-8 with 10:03 left in the first half. The Colonels held a 28-20 lead and closed out the first half on a 10-5 run to take a 13-point advantage into the half.

HEIDELBERG (4-7) -- Greg Tyson 2-3 0-0 4, T.J. Johnson 1-5 3-5 5, Ron Higgins 2-8 6-6 10, Shawn Shriver 2-6 0-0 4, Kenny Gilbert 3-12 6-8 12, Matt Alexander 1-1 0-0 3, Josh Dickey 1-2 0-2 2, Brian Schmidt 6-12 3-5 15, Andrew Lemmon 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 19-56 18-26 58.

CENTRE (9-2) -- Matt Jacobson 2-8 0-0 5, Coy Zerhusen 4-8 2-4 10, Reggie Magnusson 2-8 0-0 5, Matt Nestheide 2-7 8-8 13, Kyle Roby 2-5 1-2 5, Stuart Rutledge 0-0 0-0 0, Andy Placido 0-0 0-0 0, Bennett Clark 0-1 0-0 0, Kyle Christopher 3-10 3-4 11, Thomas Britt 3-4 0-0 7, Chris Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Adam Patterson 0-2 2-2 2, Josh Bell 4-8 0-0 10, John Patterson 4-5 0-0 8. Totals 26-66 16-20 76.

Halftime-Centre 38, Heidelberg 25. 3-Point goals-Heidelberg 2-15, Centre 8-28 (Jacobson 1-3, Magnusson 1-2, Nestheide 1-4, Christopher 2-6, Britt 1-1, Bell 2-6). Rebounds-Heidelberg 35, Centre 46 (Zerhusen 11). Assists-Heidelberg 9, Centre 15 (Bell 4).

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