VANDALIA — Keegan Saben bombed in a trio of 3-pointers and finished the night with 25 points to help lead Centerville to a convincing 74-58 victory Friday over Wayne in the sectional final at Vandalia-Butler High School.
Also scoring in double figures were Sam Lash with 14, Alec Grandin 13 and Donnie Shelton had 10.
L’Christian Smith led the Warriors with 16 and Deshon Parker had 12. Parker opened the game with a 3-pointer to give Wayne the early lead. Saben answered with basket inside, as did Smith for Wayne and Adam Velasco knocked down a trey for the Elks to tie the game 5-5. The Elks went on to take a 10-5 lead but Wayne closed the gap to 14-11 by quarter’s end.
Centerville led the rest of the game. Smith scored early in the second quarter to cut the Elks’ lead to one, but that is as close as it got. Shelton buried a pair of second quarter treys and Saben nailed another to keep Wayne at-bay. Parker converted a pair of free throws to close out the first half to help Wayne pull to within three at the break, 33-30.
If there was a turning point it came before play resumed in the third quarter. The officiating crew informed the Wayne coaching staff that one its players was in violation of a uniform rule as he had a black T-shirt collar showing above the neckline of his white jersey. Apparently someone forgot to tell the player to remove the T-shirt at halftime. The officials pointed out that the player still was in violation when Wayne came back out for the second half. Rules require that a player go to the locker room to remove any garments. Instead, the player removed it on the court.
That resulted in Wayne being assessed with a player personal foul, a bench foul as well as a technical. The transgression meant Wayne Coach Travis Trice would have to remain on the bench the remainder of the game. Saben sank both free throws as a result of the technical and on the ensuing possession Sam Lash scored inside, drew a foul from Smith and tacked on the bonus shot to put Centerville up 38-30.
Smith buried a 3-pointer and Ronnie Hampton scored a jump shot inside the paint to cut the Elks’ lead to 38-35. Centerville went on an 11-0 run to close out the quarter to take 49-35 lead entering the final eight minutes of play. Wayne never recovered.
“We sped them up and we shot the ball extremely well,” said Wayne Coach Travis Trice. “I thought we were in a good position, but the whole freak thing at halftime was pretty frustrating and that kind of changed things coming out of halftime. It gave them two free points and then they ended up hitting a three off a missed shot where we didn’t get a rebound off of it, so we went from a three point game to an eight point game and that kind of changed the way the third quarter went.”
Trice credited Centerville for shooting the ball extremely well to earn the victory.
“We wanted other guys to be taking shots but we gave Keegan Saben too many good looks and to his credit he knocked them down,” Trice said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries this year and never had a consistent lineup and then getting Blue (Smith) back there towards the end after missing five games, we just never really kind of got a feel. We didn’t play well pretty much most of the season. We had a good start and played well in Tennessee and I thought we were on our way a little bit, but with some injuries and bumps in the road we just never got it figured out. That falls on me. A lot of that is just injuries that you have to deal with and we didn’t handle that very well.”
With the loss Wayne ends its season with a 15-9 overall record. Centerville improves to 17-8 and advances to play in the district tournament on Saturday, March 11 at U.D Arena, most likely against Mason.
Centerville Coach Brook Cupps credited Saben for his performance against Wayne.
“Keegan is a great player and I thought he did a really good job of staying under control and taking good shots,” Cupps said. “I thought our guys moved the basketball well and we were patient enough to get him the shots. He has been good for us the entire year. I thought he stepped up tonight and did what good players are supposed to do.”
Sam Lash caught Wayne off guard by getting inside to score a pair of easy fourth quarter baskets and also buried a 3-pointer.
“One of Sam’s strengths is moving without the ball, and so those layups that he got were just because he read his defense and made the right cut and our guys were smart enough with the basketball to find him,” Cupps added. “It is a credit to Sam to make those cuts and to make those reads. Somebody who is traditionally a good three point shooter, a lot of times they just want to hang out, and that is something that Sam doesn’t do. He understands the value of mixing those things up and our guys did a great job of finding him on those passes.”
CEN 14 33 49 74 – 74
WAY 11 30 35 58 – 58
Centerville: Erik Meiners 3, Donnie Shelton 10, Alec Grandin 13, Colby Watson 4, Adam Velasco 3, Keegan Saben 25, Sam Lash 14, Jevon Henderson 2. Totals: 27-11-74.
Wayne: Isaiah Trice 5, Deshon Parker 12, Darius Quisenberry 5, Ray James 8, L’Christian Smith 16, Ronnie Hampton 6, Rashad McKee 6. Totals: 20-12-58.
3-point goals: Centerville 9 (Saben 3, Shelton 2, Meiners, Grandin, Velasco, Lash); Wayne 6 (Parker 2, Smith 2, Trice, McKee).
Records: Centerville 17-8, Wayne 15-9.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind