By KYLE OCKER CNHI/Daily Iowegian
---- — CENTERVILLE — As always, match-ups between Centerville and Albia are entertaining to say the least.
A packed Lakeview gymnasium witnessed what wound-up being a 65-49 win for the Centerville Big Reds. While the score shows a win by a 16-point margin, the Big Reds had to earn it against a similarly-matched Albia Blue Demon team on Tuesday.
The first five minutes featured five lead changes as Centerville grew a lead no bigger than five points over Albia. Over the final three minutes of the first quarter, Centerville kept the lead, but the Big Reds only took a 13-10 lead into the second quarter.
Centerville would outscore the Albia Blue Demons 21-12 in the second quarter, as the Reds took what appeared to be a commanding 34-22 lead into the second half.
The Blue Demons, however, had other plans.
Albia went on a 10-2 run in the first three and a half minutes of the second half, cutting the Big Reds’ lead down to just four points.
Albia’s Matt Baker hit a three pointer with 2:17 left in the third quarter, to narrow Centerville’s lead to 36-35. The Blue Demons would never take the lead, but they would tie the game twice before Centerville began to regain their offensive strength.
Garrett Faris hit a two point shot with 6:54 left in the game. He was fouled while making the shot and made his ensuing free throw to complete a three point play. Those points broke a tie and gave Centerville a 45-42 lead.
Albia’s Blake Bayer hit a two point shot to again cut Centerville’s lead to one point. However, back-to-back-to-back two pointers from Brett Kauzarlich, Faris and Michael Starcevich gave Centerville a seven point lead.
A two pointer by Kolton Gonnerman with 2:20 left gave Centerville their first double-digit lead of the second half. Centerville would extend their lead to 16 points in the final two minutes to eventually take the 65-49 victory.
Faris led the team in scoring on the night, shooting 9-for-12 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free throw line to finish the game with 22 points. Three other starters for Centerville also ended the night in double digits. Starcevich and Kauzlarich each ended the night with 13 while Jared Armington recorded 10 points.
Starcevich and Armington tied for the team-high number for rebounds, with nine each. Gonnerman was the team’s assist leader with eight.
“This was a great conference win against a very athletic Albia team,” Centerville head coach Matt Kruzich said. “Our defense was very active and we worked for good shots offensively. Garrett Faris led the way in scoring and did a nice job attacking offensively. All of our seniors had a good night and displayed veteran leadership and positive teamwork.”
The group of Big Reds seniors have had Albia’s number over their four years. In eight games between the two teams since the 2011-12 school year, Centerville has won all eight.
The last loss to Albia occurred in 2010, when the Big Reds fell twice to the Blue Demons on the basketball court.
Centerville (14-5, 7-2 in SCC) will host Clarke on Friday to finish out the South Central Conference season. They’ll host Pella for their regular season finale on Tuesday.
Their post-season journey is now known in both Class 3A and 4A. Centerville earned a second seed out of the district. They’ll open post-season play in Chariton on Feb. 24 against Knoxville at 6:30 p.m.
The Class 3A, District 13 championship game will be held on Feb. 27 at either Oskaloosa or Chariton, depending on which teams advance from the first round. In District 12, Fairfield will open postseason play in Keokuk against Fort Madison at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, the same night that Ottumwa will open Class 4A, Substate 6 play at Newton at 7.
Albia (13-7) received a first round-bye in the district bracket. They will play either Davis County or Eddyvile-Blakesburg-Fremont on Feb. 20 at home at 8 p.m.
Centerville 65, Albia 49
Albia (49) — Zach Hugen 5-11 1-2 12, Matt Baker 3-9 2-5 11, Luke Sarver 3-5 2-5 6, Ryan Sarver 2-5 0-0 5, Mason Cox 2-9 0-0 5, Victor Sanders 2-3 0-0 4, Tanner Wynn 1-7 0-1 3, Blake Bayer 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 19-52 4-11 49.
Centerville (65) — Kolton Gonnerman 2-4 3-3 7, Michael Starcevich 6-14 0-0 13, Garrett Faris 9-12 3-4 22, Jared Armington 4-5 2-3 10, Brett Kauzlarich 5-7 2-2 13. Totals 26-43 10-12 65.
Albia 10 12 17 10 — 49
Centerville 13 21 6 25 — 65
3-Point Goals — Albia 7-21 (Hugen 1-4, Baker 3-5, L. Sarver 0-1, R. Sarver 1-3, Cox 1-4, Wynn 1-3, Bayer 0-1), Centerville 3-10 (Starcevich 1-5, Faris 1-3, Kauzlarich 1-2). Fouled-Out — Wynn. Rebounds — Albia 22, Centerville 27 (Starcevich 9, Armington 9). Turnovers — Albia 10, Centerville 10. Total Fouls — Albia 49, Centerville 13.