Maroons' win extra special

Maroons' win extra special

CHAMPAIGN — Centennial and Central could have played basketball all night at Combes Gym.

They nearly did.

In what might go down as one of the best crosstown rivalry games — ever — the host Maroons outlasted the Chargers 80-79 in triple overtime.

Whew. And the main attraction of the night came after Centennial beat Central 62-59 in overtime of the junior varsity game. The near-capacity crowd received an extra 16 minutes of basketball, all told, on the night.

“I couldn’t have expected to have a game like this the first time,” Central coach Wayne McClain said after his coaching debut on the Maroons’ sideline in their own gymnasium. “I’ve been in a lot of big ones. I’m just glad for the kids. They’ve worked hard. Both teams played hard. Either one of us could have won it.”

Illinois signee Michael Finke paced the Chargers (5-2, 1-1 Big 12) with a game-high 33 points and 17 rebounds.

“He’s a good player, and he’s going to be good,” said McClain, a former Illinois assistant under Bruce Weber and Bill Self. “Illinois has got a good player. That’s the bottom line. I like him.”

But Finke’s gritty effort, along with 17 points and seven rebounds from Steven Lee, wasn’t enough to overcome the 1-2 punch the Maroons (3-2, 1-0) had in seniors Sean Suggs and Kameron Rowan.

Suggs (25 points, five rebounds) made the game-winning basket — and what turned out to be the final points of the night — with 40 seconds left in the third overtime on a running floater in the lane. This was after the left-handed-shooting guard tied the game at 70 in the second overtime with a three-pointer with four seconds left.

“I just shot it with confidence, hoping it went in,” Suggs said. “It was unbelievable.”

Rowan supplied a steady hand all game for the Maroons, scoring 22 points. He scored two field goals in the third overtime, which saw six lead changes just in that four-minute session.

“It’s just a great feeling,” Rowan said. “To have a former college coach, and one who has won three state titles, it doesn’t get any better than that. If we don’t listen to our coaching staff, something’s wrong with us.”

Centennial led 60-56 with 47.8 seconds left in regulation after Dedric Byrd (nine points, seven rebounds) made two free throws. But a three-pointer from Jamal Stovall (seven points) with 30 seconds remaining cut Centennial’s lead to 60-59, and then Suggs made 1 of 2 free throw attempts with 1.3 seconds left to force overtime.

And all the drama that came in those three extra periods.

“A couple times it looked like (Centennial) had it won,” McClain said. “Our kids fought. It’s a start. That’s all it is. It’s just one game, though, and it’s a long journey. We’ve just got to keep winning. It’s simple.”

Rowan understands why his classmates stormed the court after the game. But he and the rest of his teammates have bigger objectives in mind.

“This game means something in Champaign, but we’re pushing for state,” Rowan said. “We’ve got to keep working.”

Sweet 16
Friday night’s win by the Maroons snapped the Chargers’ two-game winning streak in the series between the two Unit 4 high schools that Centennial has dominated recently. A look at the last 16 meetings:

Date    Result    Comment
Dec. 6    Central 80, Centennial 79 (3OT)    Sean Suggs and Kameron Rowan lift Maroons past Chargers with gutty effort

Jan. 25    Centennial 70, Central 54    Michael Finke (25 points, 13 rebounds) and Luke Vaughn (14 points) propel Chargers

Dec. 7, 2012    Centennial 78, Central 59    Michael Finke (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Dedric Byrd (16 points) carry Chargers

March 2, 2012    Central 58, Centennial 42    Maroons use 18 points from Corvon Butler to win 3A regional title in Rantoul

Feb. 3, 2012    Central 62, Centennial 43    Corvon Butler helps Maroons end 10-game losing skid to Chargers with 25 points

Jan. 13, 2012    Centennial 61, Central 60    Dustin Walls banks in a running floater with 2.6 seconds left to rally Chargers at home

March 1, 2011    Centennial 68, Central 54    Josh Piper (21 points, 15 rebounds) leads Chargers in Class 3A regional semifinal win

Feb. 4, 2011    Centennial 46, Central 43    Questionable foul call on Central’s Jay Simpson leaves Maroons in a tizzy

Jan. 14, 2011    Centennial 81, Central 78 (OT)    Corvon Butler (25 points, 15 rebounds) helps Centennial rally on the road

March 5, 2010    Centennial 47, Central 36    Rayvonte Rice scores 16 points as Chargers grind to 3A regional title in Danville

Jan. 29, 2010    Centennial 57, Central 54    Josh Piper scores 11 points and grabs five rebounds before taking late-game charge

Dec. 18, 2009    Centennial 91, Central 78    Rayvonte Rice scores 45 points on 17-of-22 shooting to lead Chargers at home

March 6, 2009    Centennial 70, Central 61    Before they win a Class 3A state title, Chargers take down Maroons in regional final

Jan. 30, 2009    Centennial 60, Central 45    James Kinney supplies 17 points and eight rebounds as visiting Chargers roll

Dec. 19, 2008    Centennial 77, Central 62    James Kinney’s game-high 23 points helps hot-shooting Chargers to home win 

Feb. 29, 2008    Central 81, Centennial 69    Verdell Jones III scores 18 of his 22 in second half to lead Maroons to 3A regional title

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

ERE wrote on December 07, 2013 at 11:12 am
Profile Picture

Wow-it's a new era for the Maroons with Coach McClain! Hope that Cabutti was there to see it.

Local HS Bball entering a new era with both the energized Maroons andCentennial's  powerhouse!