CHAMPAIGN — This season’s Battle of Champaign will be decided Friday night — with a regional title on the line.
Second-seeded Champaign Central defeated third-seeded Mahomet-Seymour 58-49 on Wednesday night in a Class 3A semifinal.
Next up for the Maroons: a date against top-seeded Centennial at Combes Gym.
Central didn’t have an easy time against the Bulldogs, and points were hard to come by most of the game.
“This is what March is about,” Maroons coach Wayne McClain said. “Not every night is going to be easy for you. It was just two teams going at it.”
Central was led by Kameron Rowan and Sean Suggs, who scored 17 points apiece.
“Kam’s been good all year for us,” McClain said. “Overall one of the best guards in the state. Definitely one of the best guards I’ve seen this year.”
Behind their senior point guard, the Maroons put together a 10-2 run and led 15-8 after the first quarter.
Mahomet-Seymour used zone pressure in the second quarter to rally.
“We were a little disorganized for a second,” McClain said. “It took away our momentum.”
Central led 22-18 at the break.
The lead was four points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Suggs got it going.
Suggs made two three-pointers as part of an 8-0 Maroons run to start the quarter and stretch the lead to 12.
“The past few games I’ve been in a shooting slump,” Suggs said. “Hitting those shots was good for me and my team.”
Suggs grabbed four rebounds and scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs responded, though.
With about four minutes left, Joe Kenney made a pair of free throws to cut the Maroons’ lead to 42-34.
On the ensuing inbounds, Central turned the ball over, and Kenney connected on a three-pointer to cut M-S’ deficit to five.
But Mahomet-Seymour wouldn’t get any closer.
“We got within striking distance, but their ability to control the ball and make free throws was the difference in the game,” Bulldogs coach Chad Benedict said.
Central made 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter to close it out.
The Maroons are looking forward to playing their rivals.
“I think it’s fitting,” McClain said. “They’ve been the best team this year, so it’s good to see them again.”
The two teams split their regular season matchups, with the home team winning both times, including a triple-overtime thriller at Combes Gym.
“I’m ready,” a confident Rowan said. “We’re ready. We’re all ready.”