In a battle of unbeatens and top 10 state ranked teams Monday night West Central took down Payson-Seymour 54-48 to take home the Winchester Invite for the second straight season.
Now 19-0, the Cougars passed quite possibly their toughest test of the year.
After a rough third quarter, Central trailed by six going into the fourth, the Cougars came out with renewed purpose in the fourth outscoring the Indians 20-8 down the stretch proving that not only does this team have top tier skill, but more importantly, top tier heart.
Head Coach Ryan Sichting said, "It's not easy getting punched in the mouth and we haven't had a lot of teams play us tough like this.
The character of our guys to keep fighting, but that's what we've been doing these last two years. We've won these games because in these moments our guys have gotten tough and we've executed on both ends of the floor and I couldn't be more proud of this group of boys then I am right now."
Senior center Cole Howard added that, "That's definitely what's different about this team from last year because last year we would've just caved in and not played like we could've. But coach prepared us for it.
He said they're a good shooting team. They're going to go on a run, we just have to be prepared to come back and play our game."
Winning the invitational for the second straight season was a big step and certainly on West Central's to do list, but cutting down the nets in January won't compare to cutting the nets down in March.
Senior point guard Gabe Cox added that, "It feels kind of special but then again we got to keep our heads level.
It's one of the most special things to win this, but then trying to go Peoria is more special for us."