Villafuerte, three-point shooting leads ranked Warren Central past Owensboro

December 6, 2022 | 12:05 am

Updated December 6, 2022 | 2:52 am

Photo by Gage Johnson

A 28-point second half from senior guard Izayiah Villafuerte spoiled the Red Devils strong first half at home on Monday night, as Warren Central—the No. 2 team in the state—came away with a dominant 80-41 win.

Owensboro opened the game with a boatload of intensity, keeping the Dragons scoreless for the first two and a half minutes in the game to build a 6-0 lead. But Warren Central slowly started putting it together, knotting things up at 8-8 with a pair of free throws after freshman Jonathan Moss picked up his second foul with 3:30 left in the first quarter.

Moss continued to play later in the quarter, sinking a double clutch layup to even things up at 10-10 with 30 seconds to go in the first. The Dragons had the answer though, as a fadeaway three from senior Damarion Walkup gave them the lead right back at 13-10.

Warren Central carried that momentum going into the second quarter, going on an 8-2 run to grab a 21-12 lead with 4:50 left in the first half. The Red Devils battled back though, filling up the passing lanes to get out in transition and keep it a two-possession deficit at 32-26 going into halftime.

But Owensboro’s efforts to close the gap going into halftime would end up being for not, as it was all Dragons in the second half thanks to a monstrous performance from senior Izayiah Villafuerte. The senior guard came out of the locker room and drilled four threes halfway through the third quarter, as Warren Central quickly built a 44-26 lead with 4:17 left in the third.

The Red Devils were also struggling to find the bottom of the net on the other end as well, as they were limited to seven points and went into the fourth trailing 53-33. It was there that the Dragons didn’t slow down either, as Villafuerte hit four more from beyond the arc and Owensboro ultimately fell 80-41.

Head Coach Rod Drake was not pleased with the way the Red Devils competed in the second half, especially given their good start to the night. Drake said in the second half that the team didn’t want to fight back against adversity tonight, leading to the tough loss.

“In the first half I thought we competed,” Drake said. “In the second half we came out and they punched us and then we didn’t respond and that was it. We still stood around and watched them play in the second half. We didn’t have anybody step up. We had three guards on the floor at one point and couldn’t move the basketball. We just got stagnant. It just comes down to pride right there in the second half. What do you want to do? Are you going to sit back and let them beat you or are you going to come and compete? We didn’t compete in the second half.”

Villafuerte played a large part in the Red Devils downfall, hitting eight of the Dragons 13 threes in the second half and led all scorers on the night with 34 points. Drake said that the defense wasn’t on the same page early in the third and once the Warren Central guard got going they let up and that allowed Warren Central to run away with the game.

“We lost him in transition,” Drake said. “We lost him and nobody was communicating… He got his confidence going and once he got his confidence going we didn’t have anybody to step up and say ‘let’s do it, let’s make a stop.’”

On the offensive side of things senior Kenyatta Carbon was the only player to finish in double figures for the Red Devils, leading the way with 13 points. Owensboro fell to 2-1 with the rough home loss, but Drake said that playing against a talented team like this will be a good learning experience for them going forward.

“We moved the basketball in the first half and we were aggressive going to the basket,” Drake said. “You know, ‘I’m going to follow my shots and rebounding’ and in the second half everyone stayed behind that three-point line like we couldn’t go past it. I think in the second half we turned to spectators. Some of our guys probably didn’t realize how good these guys were. They were getting two or three jumps and our guys were still looking [for the ball]. It was good for us.”

Owensboro will look to defend its home floor this Friday as they open up district play, taking on Owensboro Catholic at 7 p.m.

December 6, 2022 | 12:05 am

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