TRAVERSE CITY — The third time was the charm for Traverse City Central.
After getting swept by rival and Big North Conference tri-champion Traverse City West during league play, the Trojans got revenge on Monday with a 42-39 win over the host Titans in the Class A district opener.
Central (6-15) moves on to play at Marquette on Wednesday.
"We've been through a lot of tough games," Trojans coach Jeff Turner said. "For the kids to keep fighting and put themselves in this position, that says a lot about their character, their belief in the program and their belief in me. Nobody's quit on us and they're still fighting. It's outstanding."
Central senior Ethan Pilarski was on varsity two years ago when the Trojans last beat West — also in the district opener. Monday's win, though, was the biggest one of his career.
"It feels great, especially in a rivalry like this," Pilarski said. "That always makes it feel good."
For West (12-9), the loss came after the Titans held a 15-6 first quarter lead. But West struggled on offense the rest of the way.
"I don't know what to say," West coach Brett Graham said. "I love my seniors and they've been great all year. They deserve to keep playing. But that's the great thing and the terrible thing about the tournament."
Pilarski said Central was too jumpy to start the game, and Turner settled them down after the first quarter.
"I can't take any credit for that, it all falls on the kids," Turner said. "I just told them they weren't playing the way we coached them to play. We were down nine, so I told them our goal at halftime was to be down five. We got a whole lot closer than that."