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Varsity Boys Basketball at Muncie Central 11/20/12

November 24, 2012
By Mike Thornburg of Monroe Central Jr.- Sr. High School

Written by Sam Wilson of the Star Press--MUNCIE — As Kaleb Mallory describes it, Central had to “rough it out.”

The senior point guard made 3-of-4 free throws in the fourth quarter, helping the Bearcats take a 59-46 win against Monroe Central to open the season Tuesday in Muncie Fieldhouse. Central finished the game on an 8-0 run after its lead was cut to five points with less than three minutes remaining.

“We had a lot of good closers, even with their inexperience they did a good job of knocking down free throws making big shots at the end,” Mallory said. “I was proud of those guys for that.”

Mallory was the only returning starter to play Tuesday as the Bearcats used a mostly new-look lineup in a close season-opening win that required late contributions from newcomers. Junior Jay’lin Barnes had four points and three rebounds in the fourth quarter, junior Joe Williams also had four points in the final period.

The Bearcats jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead, forcing Monroe Central to call a timeout with 6:19 remaining in the first quarter. The Golden Bears recovered, trailing by five points at the end of the first quarter and tying the game early in the second quarter. They remained close until the end.

“I was proud of how we finished the game,” Central coach Matt Fine said. “We got ourselves in some bad situations by gambling defensively, by fouling too much, by not rebounding the way we need to rebound. But I was happy with the way we finished the game.”

Jabriel Allen scored 17 points to lead Central offensively. Mallory scored 15 points and also grabbed five rebounds for the Bearcats.

As one of the few holdovers from last season’s team, Fine said he expects significant improvement from Mallory in his senior year.

“I’m super proud of how he’s handled the pressure this preseason, we put a lot on him,” Fine said. “He needs to be more vocal, and that will come as he gets more comfortable. We’ve got a lot of inexperience out there right now and he has been our calming force. And we need some more people to jump on board with him and help lead.”

Monroe Central was led by Chase Bly, who scored 19 points. Jake Combs also cracked double figures, scroing 14.

“They played with intensity,” first-year Monroe coach Luke Zartman said of his players. “We battled back several times. We’d get down and we’d make some big plays to get right back in the game.

“The fact that we were able to compete for 31 minutes, we’re going to be able to watch the film, we’re going to be able to take a lot from it in terms of what we did well, what we didn’t do well,” Zartman said.

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