It was anticipated to be a classic match-up in the Wheat State League as two Marion County schools faced off Friday night at Goessel.
Centre led for the entire first half, but the lead changed seven times in the second half as Goessel survived for a 42-41 victory.
Centre grabbed an early 10-3 lead, but two quick baskets by Braden Unruh at the end of the first quarter narrowed the margin at the break, 10-8. The Cougars were able to stretch their lead in the second quarter, 15-10, but five-of-seven free throws for the Bluebirds tied the game at halftime.
John Berkholz started the scoring for the Bluebirds in the second half with a soft bank shot to give the Bluebirds their first lead of the game. Eight consecutive points from the Cougars gave Centre a 29-23 lead with one minute to play in the third period.
The teams matched baskets in the fourth quarter as Goessel began whittling away at the deficit. In a game with few easy baskets, Corey Buller found Unruh on his way to the basket for a layup and a free throw. Davis Cook rebounded a free throw that Unruh missed and banked in a shot to give the Bluebirds a 34-33 lead with less than four minutes to go.
Centre tied the game with a free throw, and then an offensive rebound and putback, allowing the Cougars to take the lead, 36-34. A 3-pointer by Unruh was matched with two Cougar free throws and Centre led, 38-37, with 1:42 to play in the game.
Corey Buller knocked in a basket for the Bluebirds and on the next possession went to the free-throw line and calmly sank two more baskets to give the Bluebirds a 41-38 lead with 29 seconds remaining. An attempted 3-pointer by Centre missed and the Bluebirds had the ball out of bounds with 14 seconds. However, the Cougars were able to steal the ball but then missed on another attempt from behind the arc.
Nic Buller was fouled on the rebound and went to the free-throw line, making one basket to give the Bluebirds a precious 4-point lead with 5 seconds to play. Centre was able to get the ball down the floor and a 3-pointer at the buzzer ended the game with a Goessel win of 42-41.
Unruh led all scorers with 20 points followed by Corey Buller with 6 points and 8 rebounds. Berkholz added 4 points, Jake Smucker hit a 3-pointer and Nic Buller made 3 free throws. Cook scored 2, Neal Brubaker scored 2 points with 3 steals, and Trey Schmidt scored 2 points, and led the team with 3 steals and 4 assists.
Goessel is now 7-6 overall and 3-2 in Wheat State League. The Bluebirds will play games that had to be rescheduled because of inclement weather.
GHS will play four games this week, all away from home. The Bluebirds played Flint Hills Monday, White City Tuesday, Little River Thursday, and Peabody-Burns Friday.