At times trailing in the first half by between two and seven points, the Lady Panther basketball team came out of the locker room down 25-22 against Sturgeon. Then they switched gears and took the game back to win their season opener, at home, 47-41.
Carter Simkins led Centralia with 13 points. Kyra Dickerson scored eight, Olivia Eikel and Courtney Luedloff scored seven each against Sturgeon’s 1-2-2 Zone defense.
Emma Bright and Lauren Mills led Sturgeon with 13. They were backed up by Camyron Orf with five and Jahna Burris and Kaylee Cranmer with four each against Centralia’s man-to-man and 2-3 Zone defenses.
It was indeed a six-point game.
“I though we played all-right and did what we needed to do for about 2 and a half quarters, but honestly, I think we got a little tired mentally,” Kruse said.
They were also physically tired he said, coming off a close, 38-35 win over Community R-VI the previous night. “We had to scratch and claw to get that done and it really showed tonight.”
Fatigue aside, Kruse said he just did not think the Lady Bulldogs were as sharp as they should have been.
He was clear on one thing though, Centralia had what it took to win.
“Centralia wore us down, they had a lot of good players come of the bench and quality subs – they ground us down.”
Not being able to make the kind of substitutions Centralia Head Coach Rebecca Schemmer did showed in the instance of at least one specific player, Bright.
“Emma’s a very important part our team. It’s hard to take her off the floor because she does so many things well. She got tired . . . Several of us got tired tonight and that is partially my fault. We’ve got to be in better shape.”
He said Sturgeons game plan was to “block out,” Eikel.
He said they got her in foul trouble early but were not able to capitalize on it.
“When they’re best player is on the bench, that is the time to capitalize, stretch the lead,” Kruse said. “But we weren’t able to do that.”
Centralia he said, “Did a really good job of making shots and just kind of hung around with us. Then Eikel got back in the game and they took it to us.”
Schemmer’s explanation on how Centralia took over the game suggested their win had a lot to do with attitude.
“When we came into the locker room at halftime it felt like we were down by 15 points, not four,” she said. “We just kind of talked about how ‘it’s not as bad as it seems and we need to pick ourselves up because we’re only down by four.’”
She said that meant amping up the pep, effort and communication in the second half.
She said there were specific Lady Bulldogs on the Lady Panther radar screen.
“Coming into this game we knew they had a couple shooters we had to look our for especially Lauren Mills and number 15, Emma Bright.”
Keeping an eye on those two was definitely part of Centralia’s game plan, Schemmer said.
“Especially, Bright,” she said. “She can be extra-aggressive to the hoop and we knew we had to have girls stepping off and helping when she drove to the basket.”
Not that they ignored Mills.
“I can definitely say that almost every time out the name Lauren Mills came out of my mouth.” Schemmer said. “She’s a shooter and we needed to find her. That goes to show you the kind of ball-player she is.”
She said in the future Panther fans should see more shooting and more driving to the basket.