Dozens of Centralia Panther fans braved the sub-zero Saturday night cold to watch the Centralia Panthers play the Moberly Spartans at Moberly Area Community College at the MRMC Shootout.
Centralia lost both games, but not without making the Spartans earn their wins.
The Lady Panthers lost 36-33.
The boys lost 62-52.
John Durant led Centralia’s boys team with 13 points, backed up by Dallas Lewis with 12 and Gus Stidham with eight. Moberly’s Savion Thorpe led Moberly with a game-leading 19. The boys are now 6-4.
Carter Simkins led the ladies with eight points. Courtney Luedloff, Olivia Eikel and Jaymi Freeman scored
six each and Gwendolyn Bostick got four. Moberly’s Sydney Flock led the game with 16. The Lady Panthers finished the night with a 4-5 record.
The Lady Panthers played toe-to-toe with Moberly the whole game. They finished the first quarter down 10-6 and finished the first half behind 19-14. They narrowed the gap to four points by the end of the third, 26-22 and finished the game down three, 36-33.
Moberly Head Coach Cord Hagedorn said Centralia challenged the 3-5 Spartans with an energetic offense and a defense that very similar to their own.
“Coach Humphrey does a great job with those kids and they know their roles. They’re athletic too, we just kinda had a better night than they did.”
Containing Centralia’s outside shooting was also part of the plan, Hagedorn said. “We’ve seen them play where we’ve seen them hit 10 or 12 threes a night and we were able keep that under control tonight as well as stay on their shooters.”
Hagedorn said he knew that Centralia’s squad was more than a one-trick pony. “We knew from our scouting films that all their kids could shoot and we kept that in mind. But they still got away from us at times.”
He said he knew they had to contain Centralia’s penetration.
“We played Man-to-Man the entire night,” Hagedorn said, “and definitely contest shots and get high hands on them.”
He said 22 and 44 had to be contained to win.
“We knew we had to stay on top of 22 and 44,” Hagedorn said. “We knew they were probably Centralia’s best shooters and 3 Guy Moran and 10 Nic Brooks could both shoot and play as well. We hadn’t seen as much from their post tonight and that kind of surprised us. That is something we’re going to have to work on if we face them again.”
Though Centralia Head Coach Scott Humphrey clearly would have preferred to see his players in the winners’ column, he was pleased with Centralia’s defense.
“I thought we played really well defensively,” he said. “I thought we had a good game plan and stuck to it for the most part, but at times we just struggled to score the basket.”
Essentially his plan was to slow the Spartans down.
Thorpe and Wedtrich were really good for them,” he said. “Defensively we were OK, we just struggled to score.”
They tied Moberly in the fourth, 34-34, then the Spartans’ Wedtrich got loose with a three and as Humphrey said “they got another one and boom it was off to the races for Moberly.”
While Moberly kept a heavy hand on Centralia’s Peyton Davis, Dallas Lewis stepped up and put the ball in play, Humphrey said. “This was Dallas’ best game of the season so far,” Humphrey said.
“He’s got the ability to score points for us in the paint and he got some good lucks from the outside as well. Defensive, offensive, he’s got to play well from both ends for us to be successful.”
He said the team has taken huge strides since their season opener. “Huge strides, huge steps forward, this game was just a minor setback.”
On the girls’ side neither coach, Moberly’s Tony Vestal, nor Centralia’s Becca Schemer were satisfied with their team’s shooting.
“Both our teams are geared off playing good defense,” Vestal said. They played Man-to-Man, we played Man-to-Man. Both teams struggled to shoot tonight, it was definitely a grinder for sure.”
He said one of the keys to beating Centralia was better offensive rebounding. “That was definitely the key. They’ve got a couple of girls that are pretty aggressive, Simkins and Eikel who were good off the floor and at getting rebounds . . . They Eikel girl is a good player. So is Simkins, we wanted to make their shots tough, not bail on them.
Vestals said after Centralia’s aggressiveness turned into a three-point game in the fourth quarter, Moberly could take advantage of the Panthers switching to a 2-3 zone. “We were still playing and got in some good shots.”
‘It’s always tough when you lose by three or five points,” said Schemmer. She said they came to Moberly planning to contain Flood. “We said whoever was defending her would just make to not help-off much. We just worked on sticking with her. Carter Simkins, started with her, Kyra Dickerson most of the time, we just told her not to help-off as much, stay on her.”
She agreed a pair of hard working defenses contributed to the game’ low score, but Centralia had its own challenges.
“We had plenty of layups,” Schemmer said, “we just missed a ton.”
She said those layups as well as some missed free-throws would have earned Centralia the win.
Nevertheless, Schemmer said the Lady Panthers are playing tougher, better, every game.
“They have flourished,” she said. “Last week was a wild week. It was finals week. We played the number four Class III team in the state, we went down and played a really tough Fatima team, we took them into an overtime game.”
Playing Fatima and California has made them a better team, she said. “Even though, as with the layups we did a lot of things uncharacteristic of us tonight.”
The Lady Panthers’ ability to keep pushing has grown,” she said. “Their ability to get through, to persevere, to get through tough times just wowed me.”
Tuesday night after Fireside Guard press time, the Lady Panthers play state-ranked New Bloomfield.