At the finale’ of his third year as Sturgeon Bulldogs head coach, Michael Smith looked at the crowd
mutely leaving the Sturgeon High School gym and said: “They played their hearts out. Just like we planned, they left everything on the court.”
He was talking about the Sturgeon boys’ last basketball game of the season. The one where they played the Cairo Bearcats and lost 60-52.
Both teams played hard but the breaks and possessions went Cairo’s way and they proceed up the playoff ladder.
Sturgeon’s boys, meanwhile put away the jerseys and basketballs and start dusting off track spikes, bats, baseballs and golf clubs.
Cairo led throughout, sometimes by as few as three points, others, by as many as 12.
The first quarter ended 11-7, Cairo and they kept the lead, going into halftime on top, 27-22.
“We knew we had to control their big buy, Gage Wilson,” Smith said. “We did, for the most part, but he did get away some. How many 6′-7″ players do you see in Class 1?”
The problem, Smith said, was that Cairo had some players they did not expect, such as Justyn Gittemeier and Jack Prewett.
Both coaches agreed it was Colby Hale’s free throws that made the difference in the fourth. It seemed
every time Sturgeon drove to the basket, score or not, it netted Hale a trip to the free throw line where he was 100 percent for the game.
Cairo was ahead 43-33 at the end of the third. Sturgeon pulled to within five in the fourth before finishing the game eight points down 60-52.
Sturgeon finished the season 17-11, Cairo 24-4.
Jacob Brooks led Sturgeon with 20 points, followed by Jake Snider with 12. Mikel Sturgeon and Connor Morgan with six each.
Wilson finished with 18.
For the rest of the story, see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.