Extra incentive means a lot in an emotional sport like basketball.
Westminster had a couple of reasons to play with such emotions Thursday night against Century.
The Owls had lost to the reigning county champions twice last season by a total of seven points.
And the Knights are a team with a big reputation. They won a Class 2A West title and reached the state final last year, and started 4-0 this season.
Westminster prevailed 49-37 and handed its county rival its first loss of the year.
“It was a good feeling to get this win,” said Westminster senior forward Shawn Blaney, who totaled 17 points and eight rebounds. “Century is undefeated and they beat twice last year. And coach (Brett Kanther) is always pushing to win this game.”
Junior guard Drue Giles added 13 points for the Owls (4-2, 2-1 county).
Century (4-1, 1-1) only had four players score and Azariah Knox (16) and Carter Truby (12) reached double figures. Knox had 14 first-half points. The stats that bothered coach George Wunder, though, was his team’s shooting percentage.
The Knights shot 28.5 percent (12-for-42) from the field and were at times sloppy with the ball.
“I think our ball pressure really affected them,” Kanther said. “We caused 23 turnovers. They have a young group there so we change the defenses up to give them a lot of different looks.”
Westminster took the lead late in the second quarter and never relinquished it. The Owls were effective in fourth quarter from the free throw line, going 9-for-15.
Westminster entered the final period with a 34-30 lead and the Knights closed to 36-33 with 5:58 remaining on a 3-pointer from Truby. That’s as close as Century would get, and about two minutes later the Owls led by nine.
At the beginning of the third quarter, the Knights struggled, missing its first five shots.
Westminster opened the period on a 4-0 run to boost its 25-24 halftime lead. Blaney gave Westminster its biggest of the quarter, 34-28, when he hit a 3-pointer with 1:08 remaining.
Both teams started the game ugly.
Century missed its first five shots while Westminster failed to score on its first four shots.
Knox scored first on a put back 3:02 into play and he also had the Knights’ second basket, a layup. Truby’s 3-pointer boosted Century’s lead to 7-0 with 1:43 remaining.
But Westminster answered with a 5-0 run.
Century, however, took a 12-7 advantage at the end of the quarter thanks to three consecutive free throws from Knox. Knox made a 3-pointer early in the period to put Century ahead 17-9.
Westminster closed the gap to 17-13 on a pair of free throws and a Parker Eysaman jumper before Zach Owings scored on a layup.
Justin Wunder sank a 3-pointer with 2:40 remaining to give the Knights a 22-15 bulge, but the rest of the quarter belonged to the Owls. Westminster ended the period on a 10-2 run en route to its home victory.
“Today was a good learning experience for us,” said Wunder, whose Knights face Francis Sott Key on Fridaysaid. “We will get better and move forward.”
Century (37): Azariah Knox 16, Zach Owings 6, Carter Truby 12, Justin Wunder 3.
Westminster (49): Denio Blaney 5, Parker Eysaman 1, Drue Giles 13, Shawn Blaney 17, Joe Wright 5, Javahn Showers 8.
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Halftime: Westminster, 25-24.