The Centralia Panthers basketball team beat the Boonville Pirates Thursday night on Centralia High School’s Jim Enlow Court.
The varsity won 74-66 in overtime, JV won 50-34 and the freshmen won 51-26.
“A lot of it came down to them keeping the ball alive, getting offensive rebounds and putting the ball back in the bucket after the first shot,” said Boonville Pirates Head Coach Jesse Oswald of Centralia’s varsity win.
He said 5-11 sophomore John Durant’s performance at point guard made a huge difference.
“Early on, up until the fourth quarter, their point guard, Durant, did a heck of a job penetrating and getting inside, getting fouled, getting layups, finding shooters and we were slow to close out on him.”
Defensively the Pirates tried to match Centralia with Man-to-Man, and it worked, for most of the game. But not always.
“We’d do some good things right, and struggle otherwise,” Oswald said. “We didn’t always put together a full complete defensive possession. We’d shut down their ball-handler, but when he’d dish we wouldn’t close out on their shooter and they’d get an open shot.”
Or he said, a Centralia ball handler would get outside and Boonville would not rotate quick enough to stop a Centralia three-pointer.
Either way, the game was definitely not a replay of last season’s 75-28 Boonville win.
But for the first few minutes it looked like it might.
Centralia’s man-to man defense, did not track at first. “Early on we scored on them,” Oswald said, “but they buckled down and applied a lot of pressure on our guards and wings and we struggled…”
While pleased with their second win of the season, they beat North Callaway earlier in the week, 65-58, Scott Humphrey, Centralia head basketball coach, saw room for improvement.
“I’m proud of the kids, but obviously there’s a lot of things we could have done better. Free-throws being one of them,” he said. “They weren’t bad until the fourth quarter when the pressure was on.”
Humphrey said they needed to close out games better, but acknowledged it was a new situation for this team.
“I’m just glad we figured it out off a win,” he said.
The work of his guards was a big difference Humphrey said.
“They decided they were going to get to the hole,” Humphrey said. “Johnny Durant played really, really well, put us on his back. Guy Moran hit some big shots. We had team defense – it was a good all-around win.”
He also said Centralia got “huge minutes from Elijah Crutcfield in the second quarter.”
Humphrey said they expected a tough inside game from Boonville. “They are a good athletic strong team. When you get beat by almost 50 points the year before, you expect to be in a dog fight and we were.”
He was humble about the effort. “We just needed to give ourselves a shot in the fourth quarter and we did.”
They did that, Humphrey said, by knowing when to pressure Boonville and force turnovers and when to back off and pack the paint, taking it way from Boonville’s largest player.
“Offensively we were trying to move the ball but early on we realized we had a height advantage and tried to get the ball inside as much as possible. Early on it worked,” Oswald said. “But later on it seemed like chaos broke lose, some of which we created for ourselves.”
He said after studying film of Centralia he had prepared the Pirates for the Panthers’ 1-2-2 Press.
“We practiced for it yesterday and they didn’t come out and do it at all. They threw a bunch of different defenses at us and found one that stuck.”
Looking ahead to this week’s Centralia Tournament, and the rest of the season, Humphrey said. “We’re going to be a 50-50 team this year. We’re going to have the opportunity to lose a lot and the opportunity to win a lot.”