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    Fort Worth Southwest’s Jeff Nkollo tries to block a shot by Centennial’s Zach Bolf during the team’s Class 5A Region I bi-district playoff game Tuesday at Arlington Segion. Centennial won, 53-52. BURLESON STAR/ANGELIQUE HAYS
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    Centennial’s boys basketball program claimed its first playoff victory since 2015 Tuesday night with a 53-52 win over Fort Worth Southwest. BURLESON STAR/COURTESY PHOTO

Werner’s defense help Spartans to playoff win

ARLINGTON ­— Caleb Werner loves playing defense.

That’s his thing, just ask Fort Worth Southwest senior guard Andrew Wyzykowski.

Tuesday night with the game on the line, the senior forward from Centennial stole the ball from Wyzykowski and was able to get the ball to his teammate Tayton Conerway.

“We tell our guys ‘you can freak out or you can figure it out but you can’t do both,’’ Centennial coach Trovocie Jackson said. “Our guys were calm in that moment. Caleb moved his feet and made the steal.”

After a foul with 2.8 seconds to play, Conerway made one of two free throws to give the Spartans a 53-52 victory over Southwest in a Class 5A Region I bi-district playoff game at Arlington Seguin.

“Caleb has worked on that moment since Oct. 25,” Jackson said. “He takes pride in playing defense. He doesn’t start but he’s ready when he’s called on.”

Jackson said he expected nothing less than solid defense from the leader of the Spartans’ Chain Gang which is a defensive group that the team created that is made up of the team’s best defensive players.

“My heart was racing but that’s alright,” said Werner about his steal. “He tried to dribble past me. I guess he thought I wasn’t a good defensive player because I didn’t play that much and then I stripped it from him.”

The program’s last playoff win came in 2015 when the current seniors were in eighth grade. Centennial defeated Fort Worth Arlington Heights, 63-60. Jackson said before the season started the team made one its goals to win a playoff game.

“This group of guys said they wanted to be the best basketball team to come out of Centennial,” Jackson said. “Tonight they earned their gold ball.”

With the school record for wins already accomplished, a win in the second round of the playoff over Justin Northwest would cement that goal. Tuesday’s win was just the third post-season victory in the program’s history. The Spartans head into that game with a 24-9 record.

With 43.6 seconds to play, the win was in doubt after Southwest senior guard X’stavious Robinson completed a three-point play to give the Raiders (21-12) a 52-51 lead.

Conerway tied the game at 52-52 with 39 seconds to play with a free throw.

The Raiders then worked the clock down to 15.1 seconds and called a timeout to draw up a final play but Werner foiled their plans with a steal and an outlet pass to Conerway.

Centennial senior guard Nate Adcox scored a game-high 18 points and senior guard Anthony Hunter added 11 points. Adcox made four three-pointers in the win.

The Spartans will take on Northwest at 7 p.m. Friday at Arlington Martin in an area-round playoff game.

Centennial 53, Fort Worth Southwest 52
Centennial    12    17    9    15    -    53
Southwest    14    11    9    18    -    52

Centennial (24-9):  Nathan Adcox 18, Anthony Hunter 11, Zach Bolf 9, Tayton Conerway 7, Jacob Stuckey 4, Caleb Werner 4.
Southwest (21-12):  David Ward 13, X’stavious Robinson 11, Andrew 11, Jeff Nkollo 11, Kevin Sturges 2, Ty Hawthorne 2, Antwon Ervin 2.

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