By SCOTT TYLER
H-P Sports Editor
In three games spanning the last two seasons, Central’s Kyle Cook owned the Palestine Wildcats, scoring 30-plus points in each game.
Tuesday night, the Wildcats finally found an answer to Cook, holding the Bulldog junior to only 10 points in a 55-41 Palestine win at Wildcat Gymnasium.
“The difference in the game was slowing him down,” Palestine head coach Tommy Allison said. “I was real proud of our defensive effort. It was a team effort on defense and one of our better defensive performances of the season.”
After going 3-4 in the first half of district, Palestine (4-4, 8-12) came into Tuesday night’s game in a must-win mode if the Wildcats had any hopes of getting back into the playoffs.
“This was a very important win,” Allison said. “We put ourselves in a tough situation after the first half but this is a very improved team from three weeks ago.”
The Palestine game plan Tuesday was to shut down both Cook and Chris Tapia, who scored 25 points against the Wildcats earlier in the season.
While Ben Beckworth took care of Cook for most of the night, Lester Anderson did the same to Tapia, holding the Bulldog guard to nine points.
“Ben and Lester did an outstanding job tonight,” Allison said. “And the rest of the team played great defense, helping out on those two players when they went to the basket.”
Palestine led by five points at the break and then opened up the third quarter with a 9-2 run to take a double-digit lead.
The second-half run started when Greg Anderson had a putback and then Palestine increased its lead through its transition game as Ben Beckworth found Larry Anderson for a layup. Then Jackson found Adorian Arthur for a basket and Palestine had a 32-22 lead.
“We did a good job putting pressure on them in the full court and took them out of their flow on offense,” Allison said.
The closest Central would get to Palestine was eight points at the beginning of the fourth quarter but Greg Anderson’s deep jumper from the corner gave Palestine a 36-26 lead.
In the next minute, Beckworth had a layup off a steal and then after Jackson on one of his three blocked shots, had the deflection go to Greg Anderson, who feed a streaking Beckworth, who went the distance for the layup, giving Palestine a 41-30 lead.
The Wildcats put the game away with a 7-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter to take their biggest lead of 16 points at 48-32.
The run started when Greg Anderson converted a three-point play with a putback and the foul shot. Kevin Birdow then found Larry Jackson for a layup and the run was ended by a pair of Beckworth free throws.
Jackson led the Wildcats with 15 points and nine rebounds. Palestine had a balanced scoring attack with Lester Anderson, Adorian Arthur and Greg Anderson all scoring nine points.
“We made it a point to utilize the whole team on offense,” Allison said. “We made it a point to find the open man and make the pass.”
By SCOTT TYLER