By ANDRES MARTINEZ
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
MENDON, Ill. -- For 23 minutes Friday night, the Central and Unity boys basketball teams battled back and forth.
In the last minute, junior Lane Davis and Unity pulled away en route to a 55-45 win.
The Mustangs shot 23 of 24 from the free-throw line.
"Obviously, anytime you shoot well from the free-throw line it's going to help you," Unity coach Keith Carothers said. "It was great free-throw shooting."
Davis led the Mustangs in scoring with a game-high 20 points, six of them coming in the decisive fourth quarter.
"Any given night, we have someone step up," Carothers said.
After Unity opened the game on a 10-3 run, Central battled back, cutting the deficit to 16-14 by the end of the first quarter. The Panthers came out with more resolve in the second quarter, opening up with a 12-4 run, using the momentum to build a 30-26 halftime lead.
Central senior Marcus Landes led the Panthers with 10 points in the first half and finsihed with a team-high 12 points.
"(Coach told me) try and get as much contact, and get to the free throw line as much as possible," Landes said.
The Mustangs regained the control by opening the third quarter with a 10-1 run to take a 36-31 lead.
"(Unity's) intensity was up (in the third quarter)," Central head coach Todd Plattner said. "They play well at home."
The Mustangs rolled into the fourth quarter with all the momentum, but more importantly, they were in the bonus. Trailing by one with four minutes remaining, Unity senior Andrew Doyle made four consecutive free throws to give the Mustangs a 44-41 lead. With a 48-45 lead with 1:20 to play, Unity junior Alex Blickhan went to the line and went 1 of 2, the Mustangs' only miss of the night.
"We gave Blickhan a little trash about (missing the only free throw)," Carothers said.