MURFREESBORO — One of the defining eras in the history of Wilson Central’s boys basketball ended Wednesday as the Wildcats could get little offense going in a 56-36 loss to Brentwood in the Boys’ State Championship quarterfinals at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center.
The Bruins seized control with an 11-0 run to end the first quarter with a 21-8 lead. After the Wildcats cut the margin to 32-24 with a 7-2 spurt to begin the second half, Brentwood came out of a timeout with a 16-1 roll as Central was held without a field goal for about a 9 ½-minute span.
“We had some opportunities,” Central coach Troy Bond said after his 13th Wildcats’ season ended 26-7. “We definitely spotted them early. We got out of character in some spots, kind of went away from what got us here. When you do that, that formula doesn’t work real well.
“Brentwood stuck true to theirs.”
Brentwood buried 8 of 18 three-point baskets. Grant Teichmann tossed in 12 points and Jalen Lawson 11 as each hit a pair of triples. Andy Schumpert put in 10 from closer in as the Bruins advanced to Friday’s semifinals against Blackman with a 32-2 mark. BHS hit half of its 44 field-goal tries.
“They’ve got five guys on the floor who can shoot it,” Bond said of the Bruins. “From our perspective, you’re going to give up things when you trap. That’s our calling card, that’s what we’re good at. It’s a thing where you stick with what gets you here.”
Jacob Williams finished his career with 15 points and 11 rebounds, leaving with just over 1,700 points as the Wildcats’ leading lifetime scorer. Ben Palmer added eight points, Jon Rosshirt five, Jordan Roundtree and A.J. Franklin three each and Matthew hall two as Central sank just 14 of 41 shots from the floor, including 1 of 8 three-pointers.
“I didn’t think we were very patient on offense,” Bond said. “Usually we share the ball well and I thought we got too individualistic at times. Everybody was waiting for somebody else to make a shot. We rely on Jake a lot, but we can’t rely on Jake to make shots all the time.
“We were not able to play as well defensively and that keys our offense.”
“I’ve been guarded by the best defenders all year and usually I look to my teammates to hit some shots when we need them,” Williams said. “Usually they come through. Tonight, things didn’t fall our way.”
Though Brentwood is considered to be a guard-oriented team, the Bruins rotated inside enough to make life tough for the Central posts.
“They really pack in tight with the 2-3,” Palmer said. “They wall you up and it’s difficult to post up and get your shots off.”
“The 2-3, the gaps were closed from my perspective,” said point guard Rosshirt. “I didn’t do a good job of getting my team in position to make plays.”
While Brentwood plays on, Central begins the process of saying goodbye to 10 seniors who put together 96 wins, three sectional appearances and two state berths in four years.
“Most guys across the board would love that on their resume,” Bond said. “I can’t say enough about what they’ve achieved and what they’ve brought to Wilson Central.
“This is probably the biggest group [of seniors] we’ve ever had. I’ve had them, a core of about five of them we’ve had since they were little, starting when they were at Southside and coming up through WWBA ball and AAU. It’s been a special run. Some of the other guys that are seniors who have joined this group through the years have really made this group special. They’ve probably won more games than any group in Wilson Central history. They’ve established a lot to keep our tradition going.”
The Nathan Thomas-led group of Wildcats helped Central to back-to-back state tournaments in 2004-05. Next came the Kelten Stewart-led Wildcats who climaxed their careers with a sectional appearance in ’09. Now, Bond will begin with a new group this spring and summer as only junior guards Deante Miller and A.J. Franklin will be back from this year’s playing rotation.
“They’ve set the bar high for groups that come in for a four-year period,” said Bond, getting emotional as he discussed the group which includes his stepson, Rosshirt. “A lot of teams don’t even get to go to the state tournament. These guys went twice and been to the substate another time.”
Rosshirt, Williams, Hall, Palmer [whose brother Daniel straddled the Thomas and Stewart eras], Casey Brandon, Preston Reed, Jordan Roundtree, Tyler Rogers, Fredric Alpert and Jacob Thompson suited up for the final time as Wildcats, a group whose total may have been greater than the sum of the parts.
“They’ve got a great chemistry with each other,” Bond said. “Not only are they good on the floor and how they interact, they’re good off the floor. They’re friends, always have been. That closeness has definitely been a plus to our success.
“They’ll be people talking about this group 20-30 years down the road. I’ll be long gone by then. They’ve established a certain mentality at Wilson Central and a certain plateau.”