Omaha Central’s eight-games-in-12-days grind is in the rearview mirror after an 81-64 victory over Lincoln High on Saturday.The second-ranked Eagles (13-3) won all eight games, but it wasn’t as easy as the final score might indicate. Central looked tired in Saturday’s first quarter. The Eagles got beat to loose balls. They allowed too many offensive rebounds. And there were times when they seemed out of sync.“We were feeling it a bit,” said senior guard Roman Behrens, who scored a game-high 24 points. “We’ve played a lot of basketball the last couple of weeks.”It might have taken Central a quarter to work through its fatigue, but once it did, the Eagles were pretty good. They started the second quarter with a 10-0 run and ended the first half by scoring the final five points for a 32-30 lead at intermission.The Links didn’t stand a chance after that.Central scored 49 points after halftime to build a comfortable lead that sent No. 8 Lincoln High (8-6) home with its second double-digit loss in as many nights.“We got in transition a little bit and knocked some shots down,” Central coach Eric Behrens said. “I don’t know that there was a huge adjustment. We just played better.”There was no special pep talk. No X’s or O’s. The Eagles just needed to match Lincoln High’s intensity — something that wasn’t happening early.After Sammy Richardson intercepted an inbounds pass and followed his own miss with a layup that gave the Links a 13-11 lead with 2:07 to play in the first quarter, Eric Behrens called timeout.A minute later, Roman Behrens and Jihad Muhammad got in a tussle for a loose ball. Words were exchanged and technical fouls were called on each.On the next possession, Jaden Horton stepped in front of a pass at the top of the key and went the length of the court for a breakaway dunk that gave Lincoln High a 15-11 lead.“I didn’t think we were competing at the level we needed to compete,” Eric Behrens said. “I don’t think we brought the mental sharpness that we have been bringing. Lincoln is too good for us to have mental letdowns like that.”But the Eagles would respond. The 10-point run to start the second quarter seemed to right their ship.“I knew we weren’t playing well at the time,” Roman Behrens said. “I was trying to get our guys, and myself, to pick it up. So far this year, our team has been really good at keeping our emotions at an even keel. ... But we’ve had such a tough stretch, it’s been hard to keep coming out each night.”They made it look easy in the second half. Roman Behrens took the ball to the hoop, which left perimeter players John Tonje, Latrell Wrightsell and Maxwell Polk open.Tonje finished with 19 points, while Wrightsell and Polk had 12 each. Richardson led Lincoln with 23 points.
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