Blue and white and black and white clashed Thursday night on Centralia’s Jim Enlow Court.
December 20, that was when the Sturgeon Bulldogs came to town.
The Lady Panthers beat the Bulldogs 53-46 and the Panther boys won 61-55.
Centralia Head Coaches, Becca Schemmer – girls and Scott Humphrey, boys, agreed, neither game was easy.
Sturgeon Head coaches Michael Smith – boys, and John Kruse, girls, agreed their teams played hard and showed promise against the Panthers.
The ladies game started close and a layup by Sturgeon’s Camyron Orf tied it at 21 at 4:39 in the second. Sturgeons’ Jahna Burris put them ahead moments later with a rebound shot, one of her game-leading 20 points, making it 23-21 Sturgeon.
Centralia’s Carter Simkins and Chris Heimann each hit back with a three, but more shots from Burris and Orf put the Lady Bulldogs up 30-27 going into half-time.
In the third though, with more threes from Heimann and Kyra Dickerson, Centralia took the lead, then pulled ahead 36-30 and never looked back.
Simkins led the Lady Panthers with 12 points, followed by Dickerson with nine and Joella Melegrito with six.
“We made some adjustments defensively,” Schemmer said, describing the ladies’ path to victory. “Jahna Burris, Emma Bright and Camyron Orf had 30 points combined. Then you roll into the second half. They had five points, it was those three points, we made and adjustment defensively to focus on those kids. Obviously, some of their other players stepped up but we executed really well in the second half.
Burris, Schemmer said, was very much on Centralia’s radar. “She is obviously their best player. She come across as a post player because of her height. She can attack the rim, she can shoot the three, she can do a little bit of everything. So, she was obviously someone we focused on before the game.”
She said Sturgeon going from a 3-2 zone to a 2-3 zone defense caused Centralia to work the outside a little more.
“We switched defenses and in this game, we dared them to go for the three and they did,” Kruse said afterward.
“Yes,” Schemmer said. “Kyra Dickerson stepped up and knocked three down, Joella Melegrito knocked two down, Carter Simkins knocked two down, Chris Heimann knocked one down. We had a successful night, knocking down eight threes.”
Schemmer said Gwendolyn Bostick made a big contribution to team’s defense. “Yes she made me smile, she was phenomenal on the court. And the effort she put out tonight. Emma Hombs was in good position tonight.”
Kruse reiterated that Sturgeons’ defensive switch was the biggest difference between the December 20th game and their Centralia Tournament game against Centralia. Sturgeon’s traditional 3-2 zone, he said, “Just wasn’t a good fit for us. Ever since we’ve made that switch, we’ve played teams pretty tough. The last four games have been pretty good games. We’re heading in the right direction. Tonight was a tough one, but overall we’re going in the right direction.”
On the boys’ side, John Durant led the Panthers with 13 points, followed by Peyton Davis with 11 and Gus Stidham with nine.
Jacob Brooks led Sturgeon with a game-high 21, followed by Kenny Stone with 19 and Hunter Winingar.
Sturgeon trailed Centralia at the end of all four quarters, but managed to tie the game a few times.
Smith said “Centralia’s length was a big factor. We’re not going to play anybody with that much height, especially on the inside, the rest of the season. I’ve got to go look at the film and see how I can be a better coach…”
He also credited John Durant’s play as deciding factor. “I have seen him play four times before and tonight he really stepped up and made the difference for Centralia.”
For the rest of the article, please see the next edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.