Omaha Central shook off a slow start to run past Omaha Westside for an 80-69 victory Saturday.

The Warriors jumped to a 7-0 lead when Eagle coach Eric Behrens called timeout 2:45 into the game. He delivered a simple message.

“They made a couple of toughness plays early,” Behrens said. “We’re on the road, and you have to make some toughness plays. That’s what we talked about. This is a tough place to win.”

Central, ranked No. 9 in Class A, improved to 7-5 in its first game since the Metro Conference Holiday tournament at Ralston Arena. Westside dropped to 6-4.

It then took Central 90 seconds to tie the game and another 1:12 to take a 12-7 lead before a Westside timeout. Senior guard John Tonje led the comeback by scoring seven of his team-high 28 points in the first quarter.

“The biggest thing was they’re really good in transition,” Westside coach Jim Simons said. “A big goal of ours was to keep them out of transition, and at the start of the game we were tremendous defensively.

“From the time they called the timeout to the end of the first quarter, our bench counted nine transition points for them.”

Junior guard Jadin Booth kept the Warriors close by scoring 12 of Westside’s 17 points in the second quarter. Booth led all scorers with 33 points, making 12 of his 21 field goals, including three 3-pointers, to go with six free throws.

Central led 34-28 at halftime while the Warriors struggled from the foul line, making 4 of 10 in the first 16 minutes.

The Eagles shot 50 percent for the game from the field (27 of 54). The high-percentage shots helped Central build an 11-point lead in the third quarter that became a 52-43 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.

But Westside didn’t go quietly. Though they fell behind by 17 four times, Central was never able to shake the Warriors until the final 90 seconds.

Max Polk added 19 points, shooting 8 of 12 from the floor, to go with six rebounds for the Eagles. PJ Ngambi hit 6 of 7 shots en route to 16 points.

Omaha Central (7-5)..................16 18 18 28—80

At Omaha Westside (6-4)............11 17 15 26—69

OC: John Tonje 10-16 6-6 28, Latrell Wrightsell 4-12 4-4 15, Abraham Hoskins 3-5 2-4 11, Goy Panum 0-0 0-0 0, Max Polk 8-12 3-3 19, PJ Davis 1-7 2-2 5, Tethloach Tut 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 27-54 17-19 80.

OW: Jadin Booth 12-21 6-8 33, PJ Ngambi 6-7 1-1 16, Chandler Meeks 0-0 0-0 0, Reggie Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Carl Brown 1-4 1-2 4, Tucker Hagan 0-1 0-0 0, Chase Thompson 5-14 6-11 16. Totals 24-49 14-22 69.

3-point goals: OC 9-22 (Tonje 2-5, Wrightsell 3-6, Hoskins 3-4, Polk 0-2, Davis 1-5), OW 7-22 (Booth 3-8, Ngambi 3-4, Thomas 0-1, Brown 1-4, Hagan 0-1, Thompson 0-4). Total fouls: OC 19, OW 17. Fouled out: Polk, Brown, Thompson. Technical fouls: None. Turnovers: OC 8, OW 10. Rebounds: OC 26 (Polk 6), OW 28 (Thompson 8). Field-goal percentage: OC .500, OW 490. Free-throw percentage: OC .895, OW .636. A-750 (est.)

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