By Russ Green-Sports Editor
The Hardin-Central Bulldogs made a quick getaway, and then held on for a 48-43 win over visiting Braymer Friday night in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Bulldogs took advantage of a cold-shooting Braymer team to bolt to a 16-2 first-period lead. Braymer, now 19-7, shot 33 percent for the night, but was just five of 19 outside the 3-point arc. Hardin-Central, now 18-7, hit 38 percent of its field goal attempts and made 4 of 13 beyond the arc.
Hardin-Central led by double digits throughout the first half, but Braymer began to find its range in the third quarter and by the end of the period, the Hardin-Central lead had been reduced to 6 points. The Bobcats pulled to within a point, 42-41, with 2:26 left in the game and once again, 44-43, with 42 seconds left to play. Jesse Utt’s bucket for Braymer with 42 seconds remaining gave the Bobcats momentum, but after a Hardin-Central timeout, the Bulldogs inbounded the ball from the sideline. Sean Utley broke loose on the play and had his layup blocked from behind, but the Bobcats were called for goal tending to get the Hardin-Central lead back to 3 with 26 seconds left.
The Bobcats missed on their next shot and Clif Kugler sealed the deal for Hardin-Central by converting both ends of a one-and-one free throw with 4.5 seconds left on the clock.
The Hardin-Central defense held Utt below his average of 21 points a game. The Bobcat senior ended the night with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Kugler led the Hardin-Central scoring with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.