Central leads by 14 pts.,
21-7, with 4:40 left in
the third before dissolving
By TONY CASTRO
SPRING HILL – For 20 minutes, Central appeared more enamored than lackluster Springstead to finish third Thursday in the consolation round of the Greg O’Connell Shootout.
For over two-plus periods, Springstead appeared to be sleep walking.
Apparently, playing its third game in three nights had taken its toll. Had losing the night before to Wesley Chapel for a shot at the tourney final taken out its motivation?
It appeared so.
Central sophomore Talon Bergantino, who led his club with 19 points, converted the back end of a one-and-one with 5:11 showing in the third quarter to pad the Bears’ lead to 11 points, 18-7.
At 4:40, it was Bergantino’s triple from beyond the arc that swelled the cushion to its highest advantage – two touchdowns – 21-7.
Game over. Right?
Up to that point, scoring was hard to come by for the hosts. Ask skipper Matt McGarry, whose team clanked 21 of its first 24 field goal attempts.
Moreover, up to that point, there had been zero Eagles diving for loose balls. It was all Central.
Oddly enough, over the last 12 minutes of the game, SHS out-scored the Bears, 41-13. Yet, no one fouled out.
The game began to shift in a Unique way – as in Unique Torain.
Torain’s layup at 4:01 quietly stopped the bleeding, 21-9.
From there, SHS forced 10 second-half turnovers and Torain poured in 19 of his game-high 23 points turn the tide in favor of Springstead (6-5 overall), 48-34.
Torain scored seven points in the third quarter to help cut into the Bears’ lead, 24-21.
In racing past Central (4-8 overall), 27-10 across the final eight minutes, Torain pumped in 12 points.
He brought the crowd to its feet with a pair of right-handed jams. The first with L56 left in the third quarter and the last with five ticks left in the game to seal the proceedings.
Torain’s brother, senior, Sincere, mirrored the Eagles’ offensive woes.
Sincere, who dropped 31 points against Wesley Chapel-Cypress Creek, finished with six markers.
The Eagles’ leading scorer didn’t score in a frustrating first half where he misfired on 9-of-9 field goal attempts.
He buried his only jumper with 4:32 left in the game giving SHS the lead, 33-31.
Senior center David Battle, who also didn’t score in the first half, tallied eight key second-half points.
Battle and Unique also turned in a yeoman’s job of defense on neutralizing the Bears’ top offensive threat inside the paint – 6-foot-6 center Rashaad Boyce.
In the second loss against SHS this season, Boyce was again a non-factor with one converted second-period foul shot for one point.
Due to Springstead’s varying pressure defenses, Central eventually misfired on 23-of-34 field goal attempts and committed a game-high 21 turnovers.
After Bergantino’s 19 points, freshman point guard Tre Joyner added 10 points.
Battle explained afterward how the Eagles awakened.
“Coach (McGarry) got us into playing a lot harder, especially on defense,” stressed the 17-year-old Battle. “I think we all came into the game a little down after losing (to Wesley Chapel),” he added. “For half the game, we played really flat.”
On whether winning two f three games this week compensated for not playing in its third straight O’Connell Shootout final, “It doesn’t,” replied Battle. “We should’ve won last night and played in the final. Today I was off and on.”
On the game’s difference, “It boiled down to us pulling together as a team. Coach talked us into it,” shared the 15-year-old Unique Torain.
Describing Central, “They‘re a hard-working team. They just hung with us.”
On whether there was carryover from the night before, “Yeah, I think so,” answered Torain. “We walked in not ready to play. You could feel it. We were flat.”
Initially, McGarry praised CHS mentor Matt Zandecki.
“Against us, Coach Zandecki always gets his kids ready to play,” noted McGarry. “Once we got down big, I told the guys it’s a shame to do everything this group has done in practice and waste it in a game. As the game progressed we started playing. I didn’t think we came in ready to play.”
On Sincere’s tough night, “Those are gonna happen; just not very often,” explained McGarry. “He’s carried us for years. Tonight, his shot was falling. He didn’t have a bucket until the fourth quarter. That doesn’t happen. He’s still our leader.”
McGarry also praised Unique Torain and Battle’s defensive efforts.
“Those two locked up Boyce. To me, Boyce is their best player. They switched off covering him. He’s got a great motor and is very dangerous inside. You have to neutralize him if you’re gonna have any chance against Central.”
On whether winning twice eases the sting of not playing in the finals, “Wesley Chapel was very good team. It was a great challenge,” said McGarry. “But as I said before the tournament, the most important thing this week wasn’t winning Thursday night; it’s all about getting better every day.”
CENTRAL (34) – Joyner 3 3-4 10, Bergantino 6 5-10 19, Boyce 0 1-4 1, Coaxum 2 0-0 4, Miles 0, Williams 0, Escarment 0.Totals: 11 9-18 34.
SPRINGSTEAD (48) – S. Torain 1 3-4 6, Justis Loder 2 3-4 8, Battle 3 2-5 8, U. Torain 9 5-7 23, Burgos 0, Carswell 0 0-1 0, O’ Rourke 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 13-26 48.
3-point goals – CEN (3): Bergantino (2), Joyner. SPG (2): S. Torain, J. Loder..
Total fouls: CEN: 16. SPG: 18.
Fouled out – CEN: Bergantino..
Technical fouls – none.
Records: Central (1-2 tourney, 4-8 overall), Spingstead (2-1 tourney, 6-5 overall).
2019 Greg O’Connell Shootout at Springstead
Central 64, Mitchell 59
Wildwood 72, Land O’ Lakes 65 (OT)
Wesley Chapel 70, Cypress Lake 48
Springstead 80, Cypress Creek 41
Land O’ Lakes 90, Mitchell 64
Cypress Lake 66, Cypress Creek 55
Wildwood 52, Central 39
Weskey Chapel 62, Springstead 51
Mitchell 79, Cypress Creek 75
Land O’ Lakes 60, Cypress Lake 21
Springstead 48, Central 34
Wildwood 72, Weskey Chapel 59
2019 All-Tournament Team
Wildwood – Marcus Niblack
Wesley Chapel – Isaiah Ramsey
Springstead – Unique Torain
Central – Rashaad Boyce
Land O’ Lakes – Chase Farmer
Cypress Lake – Carlens Etienne
Mitchell – David Proper
Cypress Creek – Cedrick McBride