Denfeld News

March 3, 2010
Duluth News Tribune

Central tops Denfeld in rivals’ last stand
By Rick Weegman

Darcell Williams doesn’t know the words to the Denfeld fight song, but by this time next year he might be reciting it alongside the players he helped defeat Tuesday night.

Williams, a junior at Central, helped the visiting Trojans beat the Hunters 69-67 in the final game of the Duluth high schools’ boys basketball rivalry.

Since Central’s athletic programs are consolidating with Denfeld in the 2010-11 school year — though students are expected to be housed at Central while Denfeld undergoes renovation — players such as Williams will be turning in their red and white jerseys for maroon and gold.

“We had to beat them so we could be known as the last one to win,” said Williams, Central’s leading scorer this season.

The Trojans (10-14 overall, 6-7 Lake Superior Conference) used a 14-0 run in the first half to take the lead for good and then held off a late rally by Denfeld (7-18, 5-7).

“They got the bragging rights; they won the last one,” Denfeld coach Jeff Nace said. “My kids took it hard, but that’s natural. That one stretch in the first half killed us.”

Nace, who is going on two decades as coach of the Hunters, said he plans to re-apply for a coaching position when the Duluth school district opens up the process for winter sports coaching at the end of this month. He preferred not to discuss the process, however.

Central coach Dave LeGarde, a 1985 Denfeld graduate and a former coach with the Hunters and East High School, was unsure if he planned to re-apply.

“I can’t answer that question,” he said. “That’s something I have to give some thought to as I finish out this season.

“I coached here for a long time and played here, and have been a part of this rivalry for a very long time. It makes me sad that it’s done.”

Central has nine seniors on the roster, so for the most part the players haven’t needed to focus on the school’s closing.

“They don’t worry about that part of it, but there’s a sense of sadness and that’s hard to get over,” LeGarde said. “Everyone needs to be willing to accept changes, but it’s still a sad thing.”

Williams said he’s friends with a few of the Denfeld players, such as junior C.J. Ham, and doesn’t expect any problems with the transition.

“They’re a good group of guys, I like them,” he said. “If I play with them, I’ll get used to it.”

A pair of underclassmen, Andrew Laughlin and Jodeston Robinson, led Central with 15 and 14 points, respectively, meaning whoever coaches the combined program next year will have some talent to work with.

Senior Race Leonard led Denfeld with 21 points, all coming from his seven 3-pointers, including five late in the second half.

“I have a lot of appreciation for how hard the Denfeld kids play,” LeGarde said. “They could have given up any time in the last five, six minutes, but they kept coming back at us. That’s a Denfeld trait.”

Duluth Central ..................... 38-31—69
Denfeld ................................. 29-38—67

Duluth Central — Jodeston Robinson 14, Darcell Williams 9, Peter Greenwood 3, Andrew Laughlin 15, Ben Poppen 14, Sam Humes 10, Austin Beichler 4. Totals 27 11-21 69.
3-point goals — Williams, Robinson 2, Laughlin.
Denfeld — Race Leonard 21, Josh Benson 4, Derek Meger 11, C.J. Ham 15, Andy Switzer 5, Cory Bolen 11. Totals 25 5-15 67.
3-point goals — Leonard 7, Benson 1, Meger 3, Switzer.

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