Central Catholic, having been beaten twice earlier this season by a bigger and bulkier City League champion Whitmer team, employed a slow-down strategy well enough Thursday night to emerge with a 28-27 victory in a Division I boys basketball district semifinal at Savage Arena.
The Fighting Irish (17-4) survived for the win despite hitting just eight of their 20 free-throw attempts in the game, and allowing the Panthers (20-2) to rally from a 19-10 deficit with 6:31 remaining into a 21-20 lead with 2:59 left.
Central freshman DeShone Kizer's only two points of the game, two free throws with 8.1 seconds to go, proved to be the difference as Whitmer senior Ben Syroka's off-balance 3-point attempt missed as the clock wound down and sophomore Nigel Hayes' put-back a the final buzzer left the Panthers one point shy.
Senior Drew Lehman led Central with nine points in the game, and Syroka and Hayes topped Whitmer with 10 points apiece.
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