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February 18, 2014

Bronchos have final tuneup before districts

CENTRAL HIGH — A 63-50 loss to Walters turned out to be not that bad for a Central High boys basketball team that learned it can still push teams when it isn’t shooting well.

The Bronchos (11-9) shot horribly from the field, and even worse from behind the arc. That’s normally a strength for a team that likes to light scoreboards up.

“As bad of a shooting night that we had, I felt we were in the game the whole time,” coach John Nease said. “It was always like a five-point game and it felt like we couldn’t hit the broadside of the barn throwing the basketball at it.”

Nease said the team can use this to their advantage. Its first round matchup in district play is Friday at home against Minco. If the Bronchos win that, they’ll play Walters again, but on their own goals this time.

This presents a tough test for each coach.

“Both teams now have very good scouting tools going into it,” Nease said. “It’s a little more challenging.”

Central High sophomore Ian Hickman thinks the key to winning will be the team’s tenacity. The Bronchos shot 3 of 35 from behind the arc and 5 of 15 from the free-throw line.

Still, Hickman said the team fought for every possession and that’s why the game was so close.

“We were outhustling them,” Hickman said. “That will be the difference in districts, because I don’t think we’re going to have another bad shooting night like that.”

When the Bronchos aren’t hitting their shots, it falls on their post players to fight for rebounds. A key cog in that machine is senior John Repp, who plays as the team’s main forward.

Hickman says he does a good job at playing that position, but also providing a tough matchup for any opponent.

“He’s a big mismatch for anybody,” Hickman said. “If you put somebody short on him, he’s going to post up. If you put somebody tall on him, he’s going to take them to the outside and make them guard him... He gives us easy possesions.”

Central High will have its final game before the Class 2A state playoffs against Snyder on Tuesday. Nease says that he is going to use that game to prepare for Friday’s first-round matchup against Minco.

“We want to come out, play as best as we can and get a win,” Nease said. “But right now our team sights are set on districts. We’re going use Tuesday as another chance to get better.”

Both of Central High’s district opponents have a winning record. The Bronchos won the last meeting versus Minco 71-58, but that was in the third game of the season on Dec. 13.

“We know going into it that it’s going to be a dogfight both nights,” Nease said. “Playing two good teams like this, you can’t look past anybody.”

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