KOUTS | If it had a choice, Gary 21st Century would have ran to Kouts instead of taking a bus.
The Cougars displayed a full-court press all night long in Saturday's Class A Kouts Sectional final.
"This team runs track and cross country, and we have them run in practice every day," Century coach Rodney Williams said.
The defensive pressure forced six fourth quarter turnovers in Century's 62-59 win over upstart Washington Township.
Winners of seven straight, the Cougars (15-7) won their first sectional title in only their second year of eligibility in the postseason.
"It was something I never did as a player, but it feels good for everyone," Williams said. "These kids work their butts off."
The anchor of that defense is senior forward Louis Brown, who contributed a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
After having five blocks against Morgan Township on Friday, he was a menacing force yet again, as his most impressive stat nugget was his seven blocks and that doesn't count the shots he altered with his long reach.
"We're a very conditioned team, and all we do is run," Brown said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself, and all the hard work has paid off."
Two huge parts of the full-court press were guards Mykel Mayes and Dantrell Hurt, who combined for six steals, and both contributed to the Senators committing 16 turnovers.
At the 10-7 juncture, Washington scored nine of the last 11 points in the quarter to swing the momentum its way thanks to six points from Ryan Geberin in the run.
The Senators shot 6-of-10 in the opening quarter, while Century shot just 5-of-18.
Century coach Rodney Williams yelled at his team during the short break.
"How much do you want it?! Who wants it?!" the usually collected coach asked.
His team, Hurt in particular, responded offensively by exploding for 20 points in the second quarter on 7-of-14 shooting. Hurt scored nine of those, including five from the foul line.
Hurt also had the offensive rebound when Century was up 61-58 with 5.7 seconds left to help secure the game.
"Everyone has been crashing the boards," said Hurt, who had a game-high 23 points.
Geberin led Washington with 22 points, seven boards, and two steals.
Williams was actually taken aback by Washington's strategy coming into the contest.
"I was a little shocked at how much they ran against us," he said. "They broke our pressure a lot because of their aggressive style."
Washington (16-7) ended its season with the best record in the school's 88-year history.
"We got some good shots out of their pressure, and we kept believing," Senators coach Scott Bowersock said. "This team has set the foundation for the younger kids and made Century work for it."