Perry County Central used its decisive size advantage to own the interior in a 61-46 win over Pikeville in the first round of the 100th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen Wednesday afternoon at Rupp Arena.
The Commodores, whose starting lineup includes 6-foot-8 senior Idris Akinyemi and 6-foot-9 senior Princewell Anosike, outrebounded Pikeville 44-21 and finished with a 12-3 edge in blocked shots. That helped the Commodores overcome 21-11 disadvantage in the turnover department.
Box score: Perry County Central 61, Pikeville 46
Anosike had game highs with 15 rebounds and six blocks for Perry Central, which advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time in program history and the first since 2004. He had 10 points to finish with a double-double and was one of four Commodores who scored in double digits.
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Perry Central grew a three-point halftime lead into a double-digit advantage after an 8-0 run to open the third quarter. Central held Pikeville to 2-for-13 shooting in the penultimate period and 16 of 52 overall from the field.
“We’ve been shooting the ball pretty good as of late so you can credit that to a lot of the Perry Central defense,” said Pikeville Coach Elisha Justice. “... They’re bigger than anybody that we’ve seen.”
It took a while for both teams to settle their nerves, Commodores Coach Shannon Hoskins said.
“It was an ugly basketball game in the first quarter,” said Hoskins, whose team shot 33.3 percent in the opening frame before ending 25 of 46 on the night. “I kind of felt like we both settled down in the second quarter, defensively especially.”
Perry Central’s offense caught up with its defense in the second half, where the Commodores scored 38 points and recorded 11 of their 19 assists.
“They were double-teaming every time the basketball went to the post and I think we were hesitant, and I think that’s part of the nerves thing,” Hoskins said. “In the second half, we caught the ball, we made the move, and kicked back out.”
Star senior Damon Tobler, a 6-foot-4 forward who moved to point guard this season, nearly opened the tournament with a triple-double. He finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists after a sluggish offensive start.
That changed in half two.
“Damon was able to get to the basket some,” Hoskins said. “We started cutting him off the point some to the basket and got some east baskets.”
Tobler was critical to Perry Central’s lockdown of Pikeville standout Wyatt Battaile, who entered averaging 20.6 points per game. Battaile was 2-for-12 from the field and finished with seven points.
“Damon’s a great player and they did a good job tonight of keeping me on the perimeter,” said Battaile, who had a game-high six steals. “I’m used to getting a few easy looks early, maybe try and get myself going, but they got some great shot-blockers down low that alter your shots.”