Usually, the opening game of the season isn’t a heavyweight bout between the top two teams in the league. However, the SIAA regular season opened up in just that manner last night as Central Pointe Christian came calling on West Oaks Academy. Both teams are loaded with college prospects and as expected the game more than lived up to expectations.
Central Pointe got on the board first with a transition basket from 6’0 senior Kendric Green. West Oaks responded with a free throw from 6’9 sophomore Ryan Bewley and a mid-range jumper from twin 6’9 sophomore Matt Bewley to take an early 3-2 lead. The game would go back and forth until, with the score tied at seven, West Oaks ripped off an 11-4 run, started by a dunk inside from Ryan Bewley and capped off in similar fashion by brother Matthew to give West Oaks an 18-11 advantage. That didn’t seem to phase Central Pointe as they dropped a 9-0 run. It started with a dunk inside by 6’9 junior Jeremy Foumena and finished with a three from Jorge Rosa. That gave Central Point a 20-18 lead. Matt Bewley scored inside to tie the game and the slugfest continued. With under five minutes to play, 6’1 senior A.J. Neal hit a three to bring West Oaks to within two at 38-36. At that point, Central Pointe ripped off a 12-2 run to take a double-digit lead at 50-38. West Oaks kept at it but couldn’t get the margin under double-digits by the break. At the half, Central Pointe led by ten, 53-43.
Neal opened up the second half by dropping in a three for West Oaks, but a drive and score from 6’6 senior Ramses Melendez and a three from Green pushed the Central Pointe lead back to a dozen. West Oaks then peeled off an 8-0 run as 6’5 senior Wes Cardet connected on four free throws, Neal scored on a drive and 6’7 senior Jahsean Corbett scored inside to get to within four at 58-54. West Oaks would shave another point off that deficit but a three from 6’9 senior Nolan Wells and a mid-range jumper from Rosa pushed it back up to eight. Once again, West Oaks would fight its way uphill, getting to within four after a pair of Corbett free throws. A 7-0 run by Central Pointe was answered with a 6-0 run by West Oaks and the battle continued. With four minutes remaining, West Oaks finally made it a new ball game as Neal hit a three to tie the game at 80-80. Central Point responded with seven straight points, five from Green, and it looked like West Oaks was done. That wasn’t the case and after a free throw and three point play from Neal, 6’4 senior J.J. Harris connected on a three to tie the game at 87 with twenty-five seconds left. West Oaks was able to thwart Central Pointe’s final shot attempt so the game headed into overtime.
The OT period was controlled by Central Pointe. Melendez hit the first five points of the period, Green hit a free throw and Foumena dunked inside for an eight point advantage. West Oaks kept coming as a three from Cardet and a three point play from Neal got West Oaks to within two at 93-95. Melendez got a breakaway to score in transition to go up four but then Neal closed the gap to one after a three pointer. Forced to foul, West Oaks put Green on the line and he converted a pair to make it a three point game. Somehow, Central Point made the mistake of fouling Neal on a three point attempt with three seconds left. It looked like double OT was a given, but Neal missed the first of three free throws. He made the second. His attempt to miss the third one in hopes of an offensive rebound didn’t hit the rim, so the ball turned over to Central Point out of bounds. West Oaks was force to foul and Green hit his two free throws. Central Pointe won a big game on the road by the score of 101-97.
Green led Central Pointe with 24 points while Foumena added 21 and Melendez contributed 17 points.
Neal of West Oaks led all scorers with 26 points (21 coming in the second half and OT period) while Cardet tossed in 21 points.