Sawyer Yoder

Central Noble’s Sawyer Yoder weaves his way down the court against Bluffton in a game last season. Yoder scored 14 points as the Cougars defeated Fort Wayne Canterbury Nov. 26 to open the 2019-20 season, 61-60.

FORT WAYNE — Where there is a will...

A short-handed Central Noble boys basketball team played well enough down the stretch to open its season with a 61-60 victory over Fort Wayne Canterbury Tuesday, Nov. 26.

The Cougars were led in scoring by sophomore Connor Essegian’s 24 points. Junior Sawyer Yoder added 14. Senior Myles Smith chipped in with nine, converting on three of four three-point field goal tries.

Ryan Schroeder had a team-best nine rebounds. Logan Gard added eight points.

Central Noble was without projected starting point guard Lucas Deck. Deck, who recently signed with Indiana Tech, will miss the entire season due to an injury, according to coach John Bodey.

Canterbury was led by Will Shank’s 24 points. Chris Diwis scored 14. Holidey Stephenson added 12.

According to Bodey, it was a normal early-season game with mistakes and rust showing. Despite the sometimes uneven play, the Cougars gutted out a victory.

“It was a typical first game,” Bodey said. “The kids found a way to pull one out when they weren’t at their best.”

Central Noble was outrebounded by the Cavaliers, 29-21, but the Cougars took much better care of the basketball. Central Noble finished the game with 10 turnovers, compared to 19 for Canterbury.

Central Noble converted on 50% of its two-point field goal tries, but was 6-for-21 (29%) from beyond the arc.

“We didn’t have really good shot selection,” Bodey said.

The contest was a see-saw affair, with the lead changing hands at the end of every period.

Canterbury led after the first quarter, 13-11, but Central Noble came back to take a 34-28 lead at halftime. Canterbury outscored the Cougars 17-9 in the third quarter to take a 45-43 lead heading into the fourth.

The Cougars won the final stanza, 18-15, to claim the victory.

“The difference down the stretch was my two best players were better than their best player,” Bodey said.

Bodey said Smith will take over point guard duties in the absence of Deck this season.

“He’s a good, hard-working kid that shoots the ball really well,” Bodey said of Smith.

Smith and Essegian each finished with four assists.

The Cougars open NECC play by hosting Angola in a girls/boys doubleheader Friday. The girls game tips off at 6, with the boys game following at approximately 7:30 p.m.

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