CENTERBURG — It took all four quarters of Tuesday night’s game for the Centerburg High School boys basketball team to notch another Mid-Buckeye Conference victory. The Trojans held off a pesky Fredericktown Freddies squad and pulled away for a 56-44 victory.
“We knew this would be tough,” said Centerburg coach Jim Simpson. “We’ve seen them play, and even when we played them the first time, they took us to overtime. Tonight, we got a little bit of a lead and they fought right back in. Then, they got the lead and we had to fight our way back. It was a battle between who was going to finish the game, and we got some breaks here and there.”
Fredericktown (6-6, 5-3 MBC) jumped out on top early with buckets from Thomas Hinkle and Andrew Newell in the first two minutes of the game. Centerburg (10-2, 7-0 MBC), however, closed the quarter on a 9-2 run, including six points from Brandt Lambert.
The Trojans continued that run into the first two minutes of the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Collin Bumpus capped the run and gave Centerburg a 15-6 advantage. Fredericktown wasn’t done, though. Newell caught fire and helped the Freddies pull even. Newell scored four buckets in a two-minute span before Lambert put the Trojans back up with a free throw. The teams traded buckets in the final three minutes and Centerburg kept its one-point lead at the break.
“I thought we missed a lot of opportunities in the first half,” said Fredericktown coach Kirk Manns. “Offensively, we didn’t execute as well as we could have in certain situations. We missed some easy ones. I thought we could have played a lot better.”
Coming out of the locker room, Fredericktown jumped ahead once again, but yet again, Centerburg answered. The Freddies scored the first five points of the second half only to see the Trojans rattle off 11 in a row, including seven points by Skyler Simpson. During that stretch, C.J. Ruhl and Garrett Gatton were sent to the Fredericktown bench with their fourth fouls of the game.
“I think you have to give credit to Fredericktown. They took us out of our rhythm a little bit,” said coach Simpson. “They had a game plan, wanting to get some things done and they did. They kept it low scoring, and played us well.”
Strapped with foul trouble, the Freddies had to work their way back into the game by playing tough defense, which they did. Fredericktown put together a 13-2 run, which spanned the third and fourth quarters, to take a 37-33 advantage with 6:39 top play. The Freddies got four points from Tony Lybarger and five from Tyler Hathaway in that stretch.
Much like the earlier quarters, however, Centerburg mounted a comeback, one the Freddies could not withstand. The Trojans put together a 14-2 run over the next four-plus minutes to take an eight-point lead, 47-39, with 2:19 to play. The dagger of the run was the final bucket — a 3-pointer by Drew Osborne.
“A couple of things just caught up with us,” said Manns. “We were in foul trouble early, and that caught up to us because we had to leave a lot of guys on the floor longer than they should have been. That allowed fatigue to really catch up to us late. We were never really able to get into an offensive flow, which hurt us as well.
“When we had the lead in the third quarter and even in the fourth, I knew it was going to be a fight down the stretch because fouls were a big part of that whole thing. Then, when fatigue started to set in, it became very hard.”
Fredericktown got no closer than six the rest of the way as Centerburg went 7-of-8 at the free-throw line in the final minute and a half.
“We needed to get some defensive stops,” said coach Simpson. “We got some of those stops and executed a little bit better than we did in the first half. We got the ball where we needed to get it and it panned out for us. ... We knew it would be a physical game so we needed to make our free throws. Down the stretch, we made our free throws.”
Skyler Simpson had a double-double for Centerburg, scoring 17 points, including 7-of-8 at the line, and 14 rebounds. He also had three assists and one block. Lambert had 14 points, three assists and two blocks; and Osborne added 10 points and five rebounds. Bumpus finished with seven points as well.
Newell led Fredericktown with 16 points and two assists. Hinkle added 14 points and six rebounds; and Lybarger had six points. Hathaway finished with five points and two assists.
“Andrew has played well lately,” Manns said of Newell. “He has had a good rhythm offensively, and he is really improving day-to-day. I’m real happy with his progress. He got into a good rhythm in the second quarter and really carried us for a while.”
In reserve action, Centerburg improved to 10-2 with a 44-39 victory over the Freddies. Devon Moreland led Centerburg with 14 points. Lyle Lindsay and Garrison Myles each added 11 points. Justin Snyder scored 18 points for Fredericktown.
Fredericktown host Northridge on Friday while Centerburg is at Johnstown. Both games begin with junior varsity at 6 p.m.