Central Catholic regrouped at halftime and outscored Whitmer 25-15 after the break to take a 43-41 victory over the Panthers tonight in a Division I boys district basketball semifinal played at Savage Arena.
Trailing since late in the first quarter, the ninth-ranked Irish (19-5) steadily chipped away at Whitmer's 26-18 halftime lead with solid defense and timely execution on offense.
Central took the lead 38-35 on a 3-pointer from Deontae Cole with 5:07 remaining, and held on down the stretch against the 10th-ranked Panthers (18-6), who had beaten the Irish twice during the regular season.
Center Keith Towbridge led Central with nine points and 11 rebounds, and teammates Nate Harris and C.J. Bussey added eight points apiece for the Irish.
Playing the final game of his celebrated four-year career at Whitmer, 6-foot-7 Wisconsin-bound forward Nigel Hayes topped the Panthers with 14 points and six rebounds.
Hayes missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds, Panther guard Ricardo Smith rebounded along the left baseline, and then appeared to be fouled as he attempted a 14-footer to tie the game.
But no call was made, and Central held on to advance to play Rogers (17-7) in Saturday's 7 p.m. district final here.