Short stay on bench reinvigorates Genenbacher as he carries Panthers past Titans for third time


Central senior forward Isaac Genenbacher powers his way to the basket during Friday night's game against West Hancock in Camp Point, Ill. | Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

CAMP POINT, Ill. — Central boys basketball coach James Barnett had a difficult decision to make.

With his team obviously laboring in the midst of a third-quarter meltdown, Barnett opted to pull senior Isaac Genenbacher from the lineup. 

Often the heart and soul of the Panthers at both ends of the floor, Genenbacher was struggling to find any sort of rhythm.

Upon re-entering the game a few minutes later, the 6-foot-3 Genebacher quickly proved the wake-up call had awakened him.

Genenbacher scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to break open a tight game and led Central to a 61-48 victory over West Hancock in a matchup of two of the region’s top small-school clubs.

Genenbacher finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds. He scored 11 points and reeled in seven rebounds in the final quarter when Central outscored West Hancock 21-7.

“I had a couple of turnovers and was not (playing well), and Coach took me out of the game,” said Genenbacher, who averaged 15.3 points per game in three meetings this season against West Hancock. “I don’t really look at (individual) numbers. I just knew I needed to play batter. I had to be a leader.”

He did. And he was.

“I pulled him out of the game, but when he went back in, he just exploded,” Barnett said.

The victory, which was Central’s fifth straight and raised its record to 19-4, was its third over West Hancock (18-6) in less than a month. The Panthers knocked off the Titans 46-34 in early January and 56-52 in late December.

“We’ve lost six games, and three of them have been to Central,” West Hancock coach Jeff Dahl said. “This game wasn’t really like either of the first two.”

West Hancock appeared to have Central on the ropes late in the third quarter before the Panthers crept back into the game. West Hancock scored the first 13 points of the second half, helped by seven Central turnovers, to turn a 31-21 halftime deficit into a 35-31 advantage.

That’s about the time the Panthers regrouped and the Titans appeared to retreat.

“I think we thought the game was over,” Dahl said. “When (Central) started making a run, we didn’t answer.”

Dahl said once the Titans lost their momentum, it was virtually impossible to regain.

“West Hancock was pressing us late in the second quarter in an effort to slow us down,” Barnett said. “They just came out and punched us in the nose in the third quarter. We were able to settle down by the fourth quarter and started using (guard) Nick Moore to create on offense.”

Moore and fellow guard Drew Paben each contributed 13 points. Carter Eyler (7) and Gavin Blewitt (6) combined for 13 rebounds. Central, which hauled in 14 of the game’s first 15 boards, ended with a 30-22 rebounding edge.

Alec Hymes paced West Hancock with 19 points, getting 14 of his total in the second half. Luke Jacquot was the Titans’ other double-figure scorer with 10. Gage Scott notched eight rebounds.

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