Thursday night, December 21, in Centralia was a tough time to be a fan of the Blue and White.
That is when the Sturgeon Bulldogs came to town.
The Bulldogs were riding a four-game winning streak in Central Activities Conference.
They Panthers, they’ve just been winning.
The first quarter saw Sturgeon striving to give as good as it got. Several times the game was tied. But by the quarter’s end Centralia was ahead 19-14.
Centralia stretched that lead to seven by halftime.
Centralia Head Coach Scott Humphrey led the Panthers into the locker room ahead 37 to Sturgeon’s 30.
“Our plan was to match their energy,” said Michael Smith, Bulldog head coach. “And keep a lid on Nic Brooks.”
Humphrey said Centralia’s plan was to match their man-to-man defense and keep Sturgeon’s leading scorer Kenny Stone under control.
Stone led the Bulldogs, and the game with 23 points, followed by Hunter Winigar with 12 and Jesse Roberts with nine.
Martin Yund came off the bench to lead Centralia with 19 points, backed up by Guy Moran with 16 and Gus Stidham with eight.
Stidham scored three consecutive three point shots in the second quarter to rock Sturgeon and give Centralia some breathing room on the score board.
“We did not see him coming,” Smith said. “Those three pointers made a difference.”
That helped Centralia stretch their lead to nine and finish the third quarter still on top 52-41.
Sturgeon pushed harder in the fourth, only to find Centralia’s defense had more in tank. Several Bulldog jump shots ran into Dallas Lewis doing his flying wall imitation under the basket. When Sturgeon worked around him with their high-speed passing game their drives were often knocked off track by Gus Stidham.
The Panthers keptt their margin and finished the game on top, 66-55.
Centralia next plays in MACC Shootout, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Dec. 30 at Moberly Area Community College.