Central begins season with blowout victory
Julio Galindo capped a fast break for the Central High School boys basketball team with a wraparound pass that left a Gateway (Aurora) defender spinning.
The move drew an eruption of applause from the crowd Thursday night at the Warrior Challenge at Central High School.
It was slick ball-handling from Galindo and Koby Steves that led to the 73-43 victory, and got everyone involved on offense.
Four Warriors finished in double figures, led by Kyle Blair with 17 points and Galindo with 11. Skyler McDonald and Hunter Kelchner, Central’s post players, finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Central (1-0) played well during the Warrior Challenge last season, but Galindo said something clicked this year for the Warriors against Gateway (0-1), a school in Aurora.
“It felt so good to play out there,” Galindo said. “It was something different, a different atmosphere. Last year, we came out, we played Mitchell and beat them by like 15. But that was nothing like this. We came out, executed, scored 38 in the first half and we just played great. Man, I’m just so proud of them. I’m just so proud of them.
“Me and Koby were just penetrating and getting our dribble going. The other team would come to us and we’d just kick it out to shooters. When we made plays, it just opened up Kyle Blair, it opened up Nicholas (Fair), whoever. Our shooters, Nolan (Scott) and Tate (Higgins), everybody. It opened it up for everybody.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Steves and Blair midway through the first quarter allowed Central to open a 12-2 lead. That lead was pushed to 17-4 by the end of the first quarter and 38-22 at halftime.
Central coach Ryan Hayden credited Steves and Galindo for the early surge.
“What Kobe Steves and Julio Galindo did handling the ball against a very athletic group of kids was special,” Hayden said. “I thought we were in good spots with our shooters and our bigs hit good spots. Our guys just did a good job taking care of the ball.”
With post players, there were moments in the first half where Kelchner, listed at 6-foot-5, appeared to dominate against a smaller and quicker Gateway lineup.
Kelchner, a senior and longtime varsity contributor, had an emphatic block in the first half and went strong to the hoop when fed in the post.
In years past, Kelchner might not have been as aggressive, Hayden said, but work over the summer led to more confidence.
“Hunter’s a guy, with his size and his potential, we’ve just been pounding on him for a little while now,” Hayden said. “This summer he committed himself to his game and committed himself to his body. I think he kinda bought into the fact that he’s a big kid who is hard to move around. He’s got a really nice skill-set and I think him buying into that has really made the difference for him because he can be such a physical presence for us.”
Kevin Traylor led Gateway with 11 points and David Haywood III had eight. Hayden said the Olympians are extremely athletic, but Central’s defense held up well.
“Defensively, I don’t know that there are many teams as athletic as the one we faced,” Hayden said. “They’re quick to the rim and good passers out of their penetration. So we just wanted to give them space. We had a good defensive game plan going in and our kids executed it.”