Rematch on tap for Central, Centennial

Rematch on tap for Central, Centennial

CHAMPAIGN — Central and Centennial have a massive challenge in front of them.

When was the last time a sequel was better than — or even as good as — the original?

When the Maroons and the Chargers played in a boys’ basketball game Dec. 6, it took three overtimes and numerous lead changes before Central prevailed by a point, 80-79.

Now it’s 56 days later. Those schools have a highly anticipated rematch Friday in the Chargers’ gym. The varsity contest will start about 7:30 p.m.

Centennial is atop the Big 12 Conference standings. Central won at Lincoln, then ranked second in the state in Class 3A, 13 days ago.

“Our team has swung both ways on the pendulum,” Central coach Wayne McClain said. “We’ve shown we can be two different teams. I hope the one (Friday) is the one that can play with anyone.”

In the first meeting of the season between the Unit 4 rivals, UI recruit Michael Finke scored a season-high 33 points for the Chargers.

“We’ll know where he’s at,” McClain said. “We have to do a better job of guarding him. He got some open looks the last time.”

Sean Suggs and Luke Beesley are among the Central players expected to take a turn at trying to contain the 6-foot-9 Finke.

Centennial (15-4) has a six-game winning streak and hasn’t lost since the calendar turned to 2014.

“They’ve played more consistent basketball than anyone in our conference,” McClain said. “It’s not a fluke they’re leading our conference.”

In this week’s 3A state rankings, Centennial did not receive any votes for the first time. Central (10-8) moved up to No. 13. Lincoln is No. 3.