LAKE STATION | There were fits and starts in 21st Century's game Friday night, but the good was good enough to hold on to a 79-58 win over Lake Station.
"It was a little sloppy at the start. I think we were just, I don't know, full of ourselves a little bit, maybe," Cougars coach Rodney Williams said. "We've had one goal all year, to win a sectional championship. Maybe they were excited about the (sectional) draw we got."
Whatever it was, it took about half a quarter for 21st Century to really turn on the jets and extend its winning streak to four games.
Eagles sophomore Kyle Gooch played less than two minutes before being cut above his eye and leaving the game.
The Cougars (12-7) took advantage, going on a 21-4 run to finish the first quarter. Gooch returned at the start of the second quarter to stop the bleeding, both literally and figuratively, and the lead was cut to 33-29 with less than four minutes left in the half.
"(Gooch) is an emotional guy. He really gets the team rolling," coach Bob Burke said. "When he got hurt, we had to put somebody else in and it seemed like the energy really fell right along with it."
Gooch scored all 16 of his points in the second frame and left the court several times in the last 16 minutes when his cut opened.
Lake Station (9-11) took a pair of technicals on it's bench and Dantral Hurt hit three of four free throws, effectively killing the Eagles' momentum. 21st Century led 42-33 at the break.
The Cougars pushed the ball whenever they could.
"We're a running team," Dantrel Hurt said. "We always run."
21st Century gradually extended its lead in the scond half, mostly due to defense. The Cougars stole the ball 15 times in the game.
"The defense was better in the second half than in the first half," Williams said. "We need to play better (to win a sectional title)."
Hurt led all scorers with 24 points.