Centerville Coach Randy Bergeron said his squad’s inability to score down the stretch led to the setback.
“Our inability to score down the stretch hurt us tonight,” Bergeron said. “We had good looks, but we just couldn’t get the ball to fall.”
Centerville fought through cold shooting on the night, connecting on a mere 36 percent from the free throw line while going 8 of 22. On the season, the Bulldogs were hitting on 70 percent from the charity stripe.
The No. 2 seeded Bell City Bruins held a slim 29-25 halftime cushion after both teams played to a 16-16 knot in the first quarter before BC squeezed out a 13-9 second quarter run for the 29-25 bulge.
Bell City went on an 11-5 run to open the third quarter with Centerville’s Courtland Pogue combining with Jumanji Washington on the five points with 6:12 showing on the clock. Sandwiched in between Pogue’s deuce and Washington’s trey, Bell City’s Lamonte Monk made good on a short jumper to send the Bruins outfront by a 33-27 margin. Washington stepped behind the arc to drain a three as the Bulldogs closed the gap to 33-30 with 6:12 left in the third stanza.
Bell City’s Ethan Poole and Joe Primeaux connected on consecutive treys, helping the Bruins cap a 6-0 run while stretching their lead to 39-30 with 4:23 blinking on the clock.
Centerville’s Quinton Nettles and Laroy Gant enabled the Bulldogs to trim the Bruins’ lead to 39-33 following a 3-0 flurry at the 3:42 mark. Nettles made good on the second of two freebies and Gant made a steal and a layup to spark the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs closed out a 5-4 run in the final minutes of the third quarter as the Bruins held on for a five-point 43-38 advantage. Centerville’s Washington scored on a free throw and a pair of two-point baskets late in the third stanza, keeping the Bulldogs within striking distance of the Bruins.
Bell City benefited from strong defensive pressure along with a timely offensive charge to gain the upper hand in the final period. Early in the fourth stanza, the Bulldogs went nearly two minutes without a basket until leading scorer Rodrick Taylor canned a trey to slice the Bruins lead to 47-42. Rodney Harris connected on the second of two charity shots with barely four seconds elapsing as Centerville trailed Bell City 43-39 with 7:46 left to play. Josh Jagneaux and Monk scored two points each, sending the Bruins out to a 47-39 cushion with 5:02 remaining. Centerville’s Taylor answered with a trey, bringing the Bulldogs to within five points of the Bruins at 47-42. A short time later Taylor pumped in his second three pointer as CHS narrowed Bell City’s lead to 47-45.
Bell City used a 12-3 fourth quarter spurt over the final 4:12 to subdue the Bulldogs in order to advance to the quarterfinal round of the State Class B playoffs.
Taylor led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points on a pair of trey along with five deuces. Washington also finished in double digits with 12 points after nailing down one trey, three deuces and 3 of 8 charity shots. Gant tallied eight ponts while Pogue and Nettles had four apiece with Harris adding three points and Zaccheaus Jackson finishing one point.
Jagneaux scored 21 points to propel the Bruins.
Centerville finished the season with 16-15 overall record.
Bell City (29-5) will host No. 7 Simsboro on Tuesday in the State Class B semifinals.