The Centralia Panthers boys basketball team finished the 2018-19 basketball season with 21 wins. Sadly for many of the estimated 3,000 people packed in the Centralia High School gym Saturday afternoon, February 23, the district championship game against 24-4 Monroe City was not one of them.
Centralia lost to Monroe City 67-43 in a contest many expected to be closer, and was for the first quarter, before the tides of basketball turned Monroe City’s way.
John Durant led Centralia with 13 points, followed by Guy Moran with eight and Nic Brooks with six.
Early the game looked like would belong to Centralia.
Peyton Davis and Durant started things by each forcing Monroe City turnovers.
Moran sank the game’s first basket, a west-side three-pointer.
Monroe City answered immediately with one from the east.
Then they made the mistake of fouling Moran, who punished them with a pair of successful free-trows to put Centralia up 5-3.
Monroe City tied it with an outside jumper, only to see Nic Brooks break it with a pair of successful free-throws, putting Centralia up 7-5, all to the background of Centralia fans roaring their approval.
From there Monroe City seemed to understand that Centralia on the free-throw line was not a winning proposition for them. They gentled the pressure on Moran and Davis and started pulling away.
“We wanted to stay attached to their main shooters, Peyton Davis and Guy Moran,” said Monroe City Head Coach Brock Edris. “We knew that last time we lost them and they were able to step in and get some great looks. I really thought that was the difference in the game, being able to stay attached to shooters and make things hard.”
At the end of the first quarter the score was 12-9, Monroe City. It did not get any better from there.
At halftime Monroe was ahead 31-19, and still led 46-35 at the end of the third. A few times in the second half, Edris said, Centralia’s surges brought them within eight points and made Monroe City nervous. “I thought they did a tremendous job in the second half, really making a run in the third quarter… They had the momentum going their way.”
For more, please see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.”