MORGANTON – McDowell Titan basketball fans might well have been asking the same question after Thursday night’s shocking 82-59 loss to the R-S Central Hilltoppers: Who are you, and what have you done with the real Titans?

McDowell (9-2) was never in the game after the first quarter against a club it had pounded by 17 earlier in the season. Central (9-3) advanced to the finals of the Freedom Christmas Tournament Friday against the host Patriots. The Titans faced Caldwell Academy in the third-place game.

The Hilltoppers used an 11-0 run late in the first quarter to build a 17-9 lead after one period and never looked back. R-S Central led 37-26 at the half and 63-44 after three.

From the outset, the Hilltoppers had more energy than the Titans – who were playing without injured starter Antoine Lindsey – and used it to unleash a flurry of wide-open layups, 3-pointers and offensive rebound put-backs.

One stat – Central’s 17-2 lead in offensive boards – told the story as much as any.

“I thought from the very beginning our intensity was not where it has been all year,” said McDowell head coach Brian Franklin. “When you add on top of that we started missing shots, and we never got on a roll offensively, and I think we let that affect the way we played defense.”

Guard Zyrion Wilkins led the way for Central with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Wilkins had as many follow-up baskets on dunks (two) as the Titans had total offensive rebounds.

Tyler Whiteside came off the bench for 15 points, while Arnie Twitty and Jayden Waddell tossed in 12 apiece for R-S Central.

The Hilltoppers shot 48 percent from the floor, made 11-of-31 from deep and turned it over just eight times.

“I was really disappointed with our effort,” said Franklin. “They just played harder than us and better than us.”

Skyler McKinney had 15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and block for the Titans. Travis Corpening added 15 as well. Dylan McRary, starting in place of Lindsey, finished with 12. Kevin Silver (4 assists) tossed in 11.

But the Titans’ offense never got untracked, especially from the perimeter. McDowell went 0-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first half and finished 4-for-23.

Corpening’s bucket in the paint off a Silver assist gave the Titans their final lead of the night at 7-6. But Central’s Jacob Knox buried a 3-pointer to give the Hilltoppers the lead at 9-7 with 3:25 to play in the first quarter.

Wilkins and Whiteside added a 3-pointer apiece and then Wilkins scored in the paint to make it 17-7 with 1:05 to go in the period, and McDowell never recovered.

 

McDowell (59) Skyler McKinney 6-13 2-3 15, Caden Davis 0-2 0-0 0, Travis Corpening 6-12 3-3 15, Dylan McRary 4-9 1-2 12, Kevin Silver 4-14 3-4 11, Adam Randolph 0-0 0-0 0, J.C. Olivo 0-2 0-2 0, Andrew Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Andruw Randolph 1-1 0-0 2, Jordan Kehler 1-1 0-0 2, Cole England 0-1 0-0 0, Trenton Gragg 0-1 0-0 0, Nick Grande 1-1 0-0 2, Ian Elliott 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-58 9-14 59.

R-S Central (82) Tyion Watkins 3-6 0-0 6, Zyrion Wilkins 8-16 0-2 18, Jacob Knox 2-8 0-0 6, Josh Wharton 1-1 0-0 2, Arnie Twitty 6-7 0-2 12, Tyler Whiteside 6-10 0-0 15, Malik Hipp-Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Ty-J Cooks 2-5 0-0 5, Elijah Carson 1-7 0-0 2, Jayden Waddell 3-5 3-3 12, Devin Littlejohn 0-2 0-0 0, Delante Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Lorenzo Woods 1-2 0-0 2, Jalen Singleton 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 34-71 3-9 82.

 

McDowell           09   17   18   15 – 59

R-S Central        17   20   26   19 – 82

 

Rebounds: McDowell (18) RSC (42) Rebound leaders: McDowell (McKinney 10) RSC (Wilkins 11) 3-point goals: McDowell (4-23) RSC (11-31) McDowell (Silver 0-7, McKinney 1-6, C. Davis 0-2, McRary 3-5, Olivo 0-2, Gragg 0-1) RSC (Wilkins 2-5, Knox 2-8, Whiteside 3-5, Cooks 1-2, Carson 0-3, Waddell 3-4, Littlejohn 0-2, Williams, Woods 0-1) McDowell assist leaders: (Silver 4) McDowell steals leaders: (McKinney, Corpening 2) McDowell blocked shot leaders: (C. Davis 2, McKinney 1) Turnovers: McDowell (11) RSC (8)

 

 

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