There was no waiting around for the Rapid City Central boys' basketball team this time against Spearfish in the Class AA Round of 16 Saturday night at Naasz Gymnasium.
The Cobblers, 17-3, were on fire from the get-go and never let off of the gas in running past the Spartans 100-41. With the win, Central goes into the state tournament in Sioux Falls March 15-17 as the No. 2 seed and will face Douglas, the No. 10 seed.
The last time the Cobblers faced Spearfish — just nine days ago — Central sputtered early before having to outscore the Spartans 35-7 for the 75-43 win.
Saturday was an extension of that ending as the Cobblers jumped out to leads of 27-4 at the end of the opening quarter and 51-19 at halftime. Regardless of who Central coach T.J. Hay put in, it was money in the bank as 13 Cobblers scored. The team of reserves pushed forward in the final minutes to reach the century scoring mark, much to the delight of the regulars on the bench.
"We came out and finally put a whole game together," senior guard Dylan Hay said. "Usually it has been a quarter or a half. We finally got it done the whole game."
The Cobblers shot 59 percent from the field (34-of-58) and was an eye-opening 16-of-30 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Senior guard Cameron Hall, who hit six 3-pointers and led all scorers with 20 points, said they came out with a lot more energy than they did a week or so ago.
"We needed this win, and everything about it was our game. We had to play our tempo. The last game we just didn't play our game," Hall said.
TJ Hay said they talked all week about wanting to come out the way they left off the last time the two teams played. It had to start on defense.
"Even though we scored a lot of points, I was happy with our defense; we gave up just four points in the first quarter," he said. "We take pride in our defense, something we have done well all year. Lately, we have played okay defensively, but tonight I was really happy."
Dylan Hay, who added 17 points and five rebounds, said they worked on switching screens and getting through screens to the shooters; something that didn't get done the last game.
"We got that done tonight," he said.
Senior Kailleb Walton-Blanden added 12 points, six assists and three steals, while Cecelio Montgomery scored nine points and Camden Talley added eight points.
Brady Greger led the Spartans, 7-14, with 18 points. Spearfish coach Erik Skoglund gave credit to the Cobblers, as he said they were extremely disappointed in their locker room with the way they started the game.
"We had ourselves down for 15 turnovers in the first half," he said. "We know when and how we can score, and we had ourselves down for three possessions in the entire first half where we got to a third side. From Day One, from Game One, we know what we can't do, and they (Central) made us play that way."
TJ Hay said that although there is a lot of time until their state opener, his 11 seniors have made their practices work smoothly, and he expects that continue to the days coming up to the state tournament.
"Our practices aren't real long. It's nice when you have a lot of seniors, because they know what needs to be done at practice. We're trying to keep things sharp and short," he said. "It was nice that we got in a lot of shooting this week and we shot the ball well tonight. We'll take a couple of days off and get back at it."
Central will now prepare for a familiar foe in the state tournament with the Patriots, who outlasted Brandon Valley 72-69 in two overtimes Saturday night in Brandon.
"We have to keep working hard in practice," Hall said. "We have some things we have to work on; rebounding and defensive drills. We're going to get better; we're going to shoot better. It's going to be fun."
Not only are the Cobblers the top seed going into the state, it is a remarkable comeback season for the team that won just six games last season and could only watch the tournament in Rapid City from the stands.
"Last year was a heart breaker; we didn't make it and we didn't have a very good season," Dylan Hay said. "Now that we have a chance, we're going to go into it with the mindset that we can get it done."