It never was a lock for Warren Central. They were the favorite, and honestly, they still are. Bowling Green is the only team that can beat them, and they did it. I expect them to play two more times, and I could see any combo of a sweep by either team or a split of those two. And frankly, I don't think it was a confidence building win because they played like a team that KNEW they could win. Despite being down 16-6 after one, the Purples were playing extremely aggressive defense. I would say it was a halfcourt press, where they were constantly into their man, mixing out of a pure man to man and man-zone defense. Skyelar Potter dropped 12 in that first quarter, but in the second, the Dragons failed to find ways inside and could not buy any of the threes they took. On the other end BG was just as aggressive, grabbing quite a few offensive rebounds and really taking care of the ball. The game was won in the second quarter. BG outscored them 23-4, and the nine point lead they had at the half never got lower than seven in the second - and usually wasn't even near that. The Purples were hungrier, took a punch, and then delivered a haymaker of their own from which Central never fully recovered.
If there's any team whose confidence needs to be checked, it's Central's. This is a potential parting of the ways for them. If they can grow as a team, then this can be a learning experience and fuel for the fires. Or, it can be a mentally shattering moment where they feel they've gone right back to the dynamic they were trapped in for four years, and be the passive team they were last year - just waiting for Skyelar to do it for them. Skyelar can lift them up, but he does have to get a little something from someone else. Tonight it didn't come until Cousin showed up in the fourth quarter, and that's too late.
BG likely got as good a game as they'll get in this type of situation from Ziyon Kenner and Davion Dice. Dice especially was DOMINANT in getting offensive rebounds and putbacks. It was honestly incredible given the length of Central. He had a nose for the ball.
Ultimately, my takeways:
-It would be tough for Central to play much worse than they did. Most of that credit goes to BG, but whoo, did Central shoot poorly. If they tighten that up even a little, then this game is much, much more in doubt than it became.
-On the flip side, who would have imagined that Bowling Green could win this while Jarius Key barely could play in the second half with foul trouble? The role players stepped up big time for the Purples. If that were to continue, they actually might become the favorite. Kenner with 19 and Dice with 12 feels like it came out of nowhere.
-Like the first game, I think each team likely leaves this feeling like "we'll get 'em next time".
-Lastly, and I don't do this often because I know it's a difficult job and I don't believe I could do better, I feel like this game got away from the officials. There were weird calls everywhere. For instance, an official waving BG's Justice Dingle into the game on a 1 and 1 and another official deciding that he violated the check-in rules and assessing a technical. The frustration on both sides was palpable.