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Rebels come together, put it together

‘We lost hope for a bit. We then settled down, pulled it together like a family and came through,’ said South Central’s Randall Hertle about the Rebels’ 60-55 win over New Washington last night (Tuesday) in the opening game of the Class A Borden Sectional.
New Washington’s Devin Freels dimmed the Rebels’ hopes of survival on several occasions. The freshman tallied 32 points, including eight 3-pointers.
As both teams made several runs, exchanging the lead several times, it was South Central’s defense that finally got a hold of Freels and slowed the Mustang attack in the final three minutes.
Hertle converted a 3-point play, giving the Rebels a 49-46 lead with four minutes left in the game. Freels then caught the hot hand again, swishing back-to-back treys. After a South Central time-out, Freels kicked out a pass to Vincent Minton, who buried a 3-pointer of his own.
The Rebels, who suddenly found themselves down 55-49 with 2:45 ticking away at their season, went back to work on the offensive end. Senior Cody Jobe drove for a bucket. On the Rebels’ next possession, Clinton Keys buried a trey from the right side, pulling South Central within one with 1:30 to play. With a minute left, Jobe came up with a key steal.
New Washington was called for a foul away from the ball, putting Hertle at the line. The junior buried both free throws in the bonus situation, giving the Rebels the lead back at 56-55 with 47.8 seconds left.
On New Washington’s next possession, Hertle came up with a steal. After the steal, Travis Higdon made both free-throw attempts, extending the Rebels’ lead to three with 22.8 left.
The Mustangs then turned the ball over once again. This time, Keys stripped Freels at the top of the key, coming up with yet another big defensive stop. The game was sealed when Higdon buried a pair of technical foul shots. The Mustangs were whistled for the T with 0.8 second left for calling a time-out when the allotted amount expired.
‘We took the ball out of Minton and Freels’ hands,’ said South Central coach Rob Murawski. ‘That is what got us back in the game.’
South Central (8-14) exhibited a team effort that Hertle admitted the team was lacking most of the season. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak.
‘Throughout the year, we have been playing as individuals,’ said Hertle, who finished with 20 points and four blocked shots. ‘Our senior Cody Jobe stepped up and led this team, as a team.’
Jobe finished with seven points and five rebounds, but was limited with foul trouble early in the game. Hertle, who was denied inside most of the game, reeled off nine consecutive points in the third quarter to give South Central a 37-33 lead heading into the final quarter. Higdon was also big; he came up with 16 points, including three 3-pointers.
‘They played together and played as a team,’ something the Rebels hadn’t done most of the season, Murawski said. ‘They did everything that I asked them to do.’
New Washington was led by Freels’ 32 points, followed by Minton’s 12.
South Central returns to Borden on Friday night to play Rock Creek Christian (11-10) in the semi-finals at 6 p.m. South Central won the regular season meeting, 78-69, in a shoot-out on Jan. 5.
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