Warriors show grit and determination as season nears its end

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Owen Hammersland sends up a three-pointer versus Turkey Valley. He scored 11 points in the Central loss. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Garrett Burns grabs one of his two rebounds versus the Trojans.

Jake Hertrampf takes a shot over a Starmont defender. He scored seven points in the Warrior loss.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


Central is in the home stretch of the boys basketball regular season, playing three of its remaining four games last week.


It started at home against Turkey Valley on Jan. 30, where the Warriors fell behind 15-7 after the first quarter. Central’s defense limited the Trojan scoring output in the second period, but the offense turned the ball over too often and struggled to convert open shots on good looks. The Warriors trailed 26-13 at halftime. 


Turkey Valley later extended the lead, as the Warriors gave up 20 points in the third quarter while scoring just 10. Although the Warriors out-scored the Trojans, 10-9 in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t enough to close the gap. Central lost 55-33. 


“We did some things on both ends, just struggled throughout the game to hit shots, which showed up in our shooting percentages. We shot just 28 percent from the field and 11 percent from the three-point line,” said coach Brady Stramer. 


Freshman Owen Hammersland led Central with 11 points on 5-20 shooting from the field, and collected three rebounds and two assists. Junior Vaughn Zittergruen scored six points, to go with three assists, two rebounds and one steal, and sophomore Jake Hertrampf had a team-high six rebounds and scored three points. Sophomore Isaac Loan had three rebounds, three assists and three steals to go with five points. Freshman Jullian Singleton finished with three rebounds and two points. 


The second game of the week was a non-conference game at Starmont. The Warriors played solid defense throughout the first quarter and led 12-6 heading into the second quarter, where they extended the lead to 10 points. Starmont responded with a scoring run to close out the half, cutting Central’s lead to two points, 24-22, heading into halftime. 


Things did not improve for the Warriors in the third quarter, as they scored just three total points and trailed by six heading to the fourth. Starmont put together its best offensive output of the game in the final period, scoring 20 points compared to 14 for Central, and the Warriors lost 53-41. 


“Our guys battled until the final buzzer, but, again, had trouble making shots from the field,” Stramer said. 


Hammersland scored a team-high 12 points and also led with seven steals, while collecting seven rebounds and three assists. Loan scored seven points to go with three rebounds and three assists, and Zittergruen finished with a team-leading eight rebounds as well as six points. Hertrampf put up seven points, four rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks, while sophomore Garrett Burns earned four points and six rebounds. 


The final game of the week was a rematch against North Fayette Valley, who previously held the Warriors to a season-low 10 points. Stramer was looking to improve handling of the TigerHawks’ defensive pressure and limit turnovers to produce a better outcome. 


The Warriors started strong, getting out to an early 9-5 lead. They continued to play well offensively through the first period, but the TigerHawks drained a three-point shot at the buzzer, to grab a 17-15 lead. NFV extended their lead in the second quarter, by snagging a lot of offensive rebounds and getting second chance points, leading to 23 points before the half. The Warriors scored 11 and found themselves trailing 40-26 at the end of the second quarter. 


The second half was a similar story, with the Warriors handling the NFV pressure and getting good looks at the basket. They kept pace with the TigerHawks and put up 17 points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth, being out-scored by just four points in the second half. But the lead NFV built in the second quarter was too much to overcome for the Warriors, who lost 71-53. 


“While the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, it was a vast improvement from our first match-up, and when considering the opponent and circumstance, it was up there for our best overall game of the season. While we were out-rebounded, I was happy with the effort our guys put forth throughout the night,” Stramer said. 


The Warriors shot an impressive 46.5 percent from the field, 43.8 percent on three-point shots and 75 percent on free throws. 


Hammersland hit eight of 19 from the field and four for seven on three-pointers, while scoring a team-high 21 points. He had five rebounds and two steals. Hertrampf followed with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Zittergruen added eight points, and Loan had a game-high 10 assists with five points. 


“I felt we did a lot of good things on both ends of the floor in all three games of the week. Friday night it was great to see us continue to put things together against a top tier conference team. Thursday’s contest was another example of one bad quarter making the difference, so it was nice to see our guys bounce back on Friday and be able to score in double digits in each of the four periods. We were also able to hold our turnover numbers down for the most part, which was also great to see,” Stramer said. 


The 5-14 Warriors had one game left in the regular season, on Feb. 6 versus the 16-3 MFL MarMac Bulldogs.

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