Lafayette Lofton was the difference for the Wildcats. The 6-foot 4-inch sophomore finished with 25 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Lofton's importance was most obvious in the second quarter. As he sat on the bench with two fouls, he watched the Spartans whittle a 15-11 first quarter Brawley lead to a 17-17 tie. With just over four minutes left in the first half, Lofton returned and led the Wildcats on a 15-0 run to close the second.
"We look to Lofton, but the biggest thing is we try not to survive off one player," said Brawley assistant coach Rahsahn Overton. "We want to try and make this a team game."
Sporting a 32-17 halftime lead, the Wildcats came together as a team in the third quarter. Five Brawley players scored as the Wildcats kept the pressure on the Spartans and closed the third with a 49-33 advantage.
The advantage got even bigger in the fourth. Benefiting from a pair of Doug Williams' threes, Brawley took a 62-38 lead with just over five minutes left in the game.
Jose Galindo, who led Central with 16 points, hit one of his four threes as the Spartans cut Brawley's lead to 66-47 with three minutes to play. But 19 points was as close as Central could get. The Wildcats shut out the Spartans the final three minutes of the game and with the help of free throws from Lofton and Mark Rivera, easily took the win.
"Central played well," said Brawley coach Phil Grant. "This was a spirited game. The fellas played to the best of their ability. We were happy the fans came out to support us."
Rivera finished with 18 points and six steals for Brawley. Vincent McSee added 12 points and four rebounds for the Spartans.
The Wildcats (13-8 overall) will get the opportunity to claim the IVL crown outright at 7 p.m. Monday in Blythe against Palo Verde. It is a game Santana thinks his team must not look past.
"We have to work hard in practice and I think we'll be OK," he added.
Central (5-17, 2-4) will next play at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Palo Verde.
Southwest 63, Palo Verde 60
BLYTHE — Bradley Goff scored 24 points and Cory Williams added 20 to lead Southwest High to a 63-60 win over Palo Verde here Tuesday.
Robert Miller grabbed seven rebounds and Jesse Hoyt added six for the Eagles, who improved to 6-14 and 2-4 in the IVL on the year.
Southwest next plays at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Calexico.
Holtville 53, Vincent 45
CALEXICO — Holtville High knocked off Vincent Memorial 53-45 in Desert League action here Tuesday.
Michael Strong led Holtville (4-12, 3-1) with 20 points. Jacob Freeman added 12 points and Eric Cueto had 10 for Holtville.
Dominic Jacobelli led the Scots (0-17, 0-4) with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
Both teams return to action at 7 p.m. Friday. Vincent will host Imperial while the Vikings are at Calipatria.
Calipatria 57, Imperial 34
IMPERIAL — Steve Garcia scored 25 points to lead Calipatria to a 57-34 win over Imperial in Desert league action here Tuesday.
Patrick Naylor led the Tigers with eight points.
Imperial (8-14, 1-3) next plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Vincent in Calexico. The Hornets (15-8, 4-0) return to action at home against Holtville on the same date and time.