EVANSVILLE-- The Friday nightcap for the River City Showcase at the Ford Center in Evansville did not go Gibson Southern's way, as Evansville Central used good shooting from deep to top the Titans, 63-39.
The 3-point shooting was a theme all night for the Bears, who got things going early in the first quarter. Central's Malcolm DePriest hit two long bombs as Central got out to a 17-9 lead. The Titans shot it well early themselves, as Dawson Witte and Aidan Neel each hit one from deep.
"I don't think we were closing out as well as we did in the Jasper game to start off. So yeah it forced our hand to go man-to-man. Our quick shots lead to them going down and getting fastbreaks, leads them into wanting to play there style," Gibson Southern coach Kyle Runyan said.
Gibson Southern controlled the early part of the second, going on a run to eventually cut the lead to four. Central was able to stretch it back out a little bit, thanks to more good shooting this time from Colton Glaser and the Bears led at half 29-20. Glaser had eight points at the break, while Neel led all scorers with nine come intermission.
Central began to try and speed things up in the third quarter, and it worked. They got moving, and the defensive intensity from both teams ratcheted up, but turnovers allowed the Bears to get it to 41-29 by the end of three. Witte was able to get going in the third for the Titans, scoring nine points in the quarter. Glaser had 10 points in the quarter, and had hit four threes by the end of the quarter to post 18 total points going into the fourth.
"That's our offense. Inside-out, set a lot of screens, lets cut, lets make them work on defense. We want to play more inside-out. We put an emphasis on trying to get touches inside there at the end, but we let it get out of hand," Runyan said of Witte's big third quarter.
Evansville Central won the final quarter 22-10, sealing a win in the second game of the River City Showcase's Friday night doubleheader. Glaser led all scorers with 21 points, while Rayzel Joiner chipped in 10 for the Bears. Gibson Southern got 17 out of Witte, and 13 out of Neel. The Bears outrebounded Gibson Southern 39-28, and had seven offensive boards in the fourth quarter.
For the Titans, Runyan is preaching patience as they navigate the early season grind to hopefully have things look up as the schedule picks up in January and February.
"We have got to grind it, get it inside and just kind of play from there. We can't get sped up, which they got us sped up today. It's a grind, this is only our second game, with a young team right now. With a lot of kids sick and injured, we'll keep plugging away," Runyan said.
Speaking of those sick and injured, the Titans played their second straight game without senior point guard Andrew Smith, who has the most returning experience along with Witte. Senior forward Noah Singer also did not suit up, which played a factor in the rebounding as he is a physical presence down low.
Nonetheless the Titans are one of 16 schools that had the opportunity to play in the inaugural River City Showcase, and playing at the Ford Center should be something that sticks with them in terms of best memories from high school.
"It's awesome. I mean this is fantastic. A lot of these kids will never play in this type of atmosphere, this type of arena again. Hopefully we can do it every year. I know the outcome isn't even close to what we were wanting or expecting, but hopefully they can take something from being able to have this opportunity," Runyan said.
Gibson Southern now sits at 0-2, and will get the opportunity to notch that first victory on Tuesday when they host Evansville North. The Huskies also lost their River City Classic game Friday night, falling to Henderson County 60-45. They will take a 1-4 record into the Tuesday night game with the Titans, which will tip at 7 p.m.