GOSHEN — Better execution in the fourth quarter produced a different outcome for Elkhart Central's boys basketball team in its second meeting this year against Goshen.
Playing in the championship game of the Goshen Holiday Tournament on Saturday, the Blue Blazers outscored the RedHawks, 8-3 to finish the game, and beat Goshen, 46-41.
Back on Dec. 3, the RedHawks scored the final six points in a 40-38 win over the Blue Blazers.
"We're getting better and better each time we come out when it comes to making decisions," said Central coach Scott Sekal, whose team won its third straight game and improved to 3-4. "We're getting big stops and getting boards. We've been competitive in every game we've been in. Now, everything is starting to point in the right direction because of our hard work."
With the game tied at 38 with 3:08 remaining, Cam'ron Daniels scored for Central to give them the lead for good at 40-38 with 2:58 showing on the clock. The next six points for the Blue Blazers came from senior Isaiah Chandler, who finished with 19 points. Daniels had 13 points.
"(Chandler) is making great reads," Sekal said. "We were under 10 turnovers and that's our goal every game. Our assists are going up every game. Our players are finding the next person and not trying to do everything on their own. There's just a lot of learning going on. I'm really proud of the kids and their effort. They're stepping up."
Sekal's squad went 6-of-9 from the field in the fourth quarter, while Goshen missed 10 of its 14 shots in the fourth.
Trailing 46-41, Drew Hogan missed a 3-pointer for the RedHawks with :15 left, and after a Blue Blazers' turnover, Jarah Byler missed a shot with :02 remaining.
"We definitely played with a lot of fatigue," said Goshen coach Michael Wohlford, whose squad fell to 6-2. "We didn't finish some plays and guys were banged up. Central just made more plays. I thought (Central) was able to play through (fatigue) a little bit more than us. But they have good players. Their record isn't indicative of the kind of team they are. We knew the first time against them we were kind of fortunate to win, so we knew it was going to be a battle again and it was. It came down to the last couple of possessions. They just made a couple more plays than us."
Goshen was without Ryan Harmelink, who was on a family vacation, and starters Zack Barker (ankle) and Jarah Byler (foot) weren't 100-percent healthy.
"These kids were playing though it, but that's not an excuse," Wohlford said. "Elkhart Central played better than we did tonight."
Byler finished with 12 points, while Barker had 11.
Wohlford thought a key moment in the game came late in the third, when Chandler picked up a steal and scored as time expired. That basket cut Goshen's lead to 31-29 and was the start of an 8-0 run by Central.
"The key was we were up 31-27 and we give up a steal and layup to end the (third) quarter and they went on an 8-0 run," Wohlford said.
"It was a heck of night for Chandler and Daniels is good."
The biggest lead for both teams was only five points. Goshen had that advantage at 16-11 and 20-15, while Central had that lead once at the end of the game.
For the Blue Blazers, Luke Teich scored all eight of his points and grabbed six of his seven rebounds in the second half. Central finished with a 21-15 rebounding advantage.
"He knows his role and how he's going to be the most successful," Sekal said about Teich.
Central played without starter Mark Brownlee and soon the Blue Blazers might be adding another player to the roster who contributed last year.
"Rodney McGraw has to get some practices in then he'll be eligible to play," Sekal said. "Brownlee had some nose surgery done and he'll be back shortly."
In the consolation game, East Noble beat Fairfield, 62-30. Hayden Jones scored 23 points to lead the Knights. Owen Miller scored 12 and Nolin Sharick added 10 to lead the Falcons.
A 31-8 edge in the second and third quarters helped East Noble take a commanding 42-18 lead to start the fourth.
"We had a great game the night before (a 37-34 first round loss to Central) against a really athletic Central team and I thought we played our best all around game of the year," said Falcons coach Randy DeShone.
"Tonight, we started off good and (East Noble) put some pressure on us and we had a lot of turnovers. There were things that were open, but we weren't getting the ball to the right spots. Obviously, it's something to work on."
In the other first round game on Friday, Goshen edged East Noble, 50-45.
This is the final year for the holiday tournament.
"It was a four-year tournament and it kind of ran its course," DeShone said. "Central is becoming one school (with Memorial) and they just decided to go a different route.
"We'll look at what we want to do. I like giving the kids this week off at least, so they have Christmas break and more time to themselves."
ELKHART CENTRAL 46, GOSHEN 41
CENTRAL: Luke Teich 4 0-0 8, Akita Walker 0 0-0 0, Armon Hurt 2 0-0 4, Cam'ron Daniels 6 1-3 13, Isaiah Chandler 8 2-2 19, Ty Windy 0 0-0 0, Donovan Johnson 0 2-2 2. Totals: 20-40 (.500), 5-7 (.714), 46.
GOSHEN: Zack Barker 5 0-0 11, Jarah Byler 4 4-4 12, Blak Wiess 0 0-0 0, Quinn Bechtel 0 0-0 0, Drew Hogan 5 3-4 16, Zane Barker 1 0-0 2, Tommy Cartagena Garcia 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-33 (.454), 7-8 (.875), 41.
3-point goals: Central (1) - Chandler; Goshen (4) - Hogan 3, Zack Barker. Rebounds: Central (21) - Teich 7, Daniels 5; Goshen (15) - Zack Barker 4, Zane Barker 4. Turnovers: Central 8, Goshen 10. Steals: Central (3); Goshen (2). Total fouls: Central 9, Goshen 9. Fouled out - none. Records: Central 3-4, Goshen 6-2.
EAST NOBLE 62, FAIRFIELD 30
FAIRFIELD: Holden Blosser 0, Justin Bontrager 0, Bryce Hunsberger 0, Dalton Cripe 5, Riley Behles 0, Nolin Sharick 10, Cade Gall 0, Bryce Willard 3, Owen Miller 12. Totals: 11 6-12 30.
EAST NOBLE: Brooks Miller 5, Keegan Foster 0, Luke Denton 3, Luke McCue 0, Hayden Jones 23, Braeden Ball 0, Gage Ernsberger 8, Nate Dickson 9, Max Bender 7, Jack Gibson 2, Chris Hood 0. Totals: 23 11-17 62.
3-point goals: Fairfield (2) - Miller 2; East Noble (5) - Dickson 2, Bender, Miller, Jones. Total fouls: Fairfield 15, East Noble 14. Fouled out – Sharick. Records: Fairfield 2-7, East Noble 1-3.