CENTERBURG — The Centerburg High School girls basketball team overcame a rough first half and defeated the visiting Danville Blue Devils, 55-45, on Thursday night in Mid-Buckeye Conference action. The Trojans shot just 6-of-29 from the field in the first half, but found themselves only down by two, 24-22, at halftime.
Centerburg turned it around in the third quarter, shooting just under 50 percent (8-of-17) from the field to take the lead for good. A 10-2 run over the first 3:47 of the third quarter pushed the Trojans ahead.
“I think our defense made the difference,” said Centerburg coach Todd Nauman. “It was really an ugly game, but we found a way to win. We need to find a way to put the ball in the basket more consistently; we got a lot of decent looks, but we didn’t make them.
“We had a discussion at halftime about what we wanted to do,” Nauman added. “We responded real well. Anytime you can score 20 points in a quarter, that’s a good thing. ... We did the things we needed to, especially scoring 33 points in the second half. I’m pretty pleased with that.”
The Trojans jumped out on top, 6-2, early in the first quarter by relying on its pressure defense, but Danville managed to break it and scored six straight buckets — three by Aubrey Hazen and two by Hannah Matheny — to go ahead, 14-6. Centerburg cut the lead by three in the closing minutes and trailed 14-9 after one.
Back-to-back scores in the first two minutes pushed Danville back ahead by nine, but by that point the Blue Devils were in trouble — foul trouble. Matheny picked up her third foul less than a minute into the quarter and Hazen added hers less than three minutes in. That put both of Danville’s post players on the bench and all of the sudden Centerburg had the advantage.
“I wasn’t frustrated because they were doing everything we asked them to do,” said Danville coach Christian Toombs. “It is just unfortunate right now that we are not very deep. We are trying to figure out how to get girls to play jayvee and still save quarters for varsity. That’s kind of dominating our thoughts right now and it kind of took away from the varsity game.”
The Trojans got more aggressive, driving the lane and got to the free-throw line several times in the quarter. As a matter of fact, seven of the Trojans’ 13 points in the quarter came from the line. Centerburg outscored Danville, 13-6, in the final five minutes to pull within two at halftime. Danville point guard Kaleigh Conner also picked up her third and fourth fouls in the final minutes and was relegated to the bench for a large portion of the second half.
“We were fortunate when they got in foul trouble,” said Nauman. “They’ve got three key players, and when they had to sit down, it just helped us greatly.”
Centerburg kept the momentum going in the second half, opening the third quarter on a 10-2 run. Five different players scored buckets in the run, which stretched to 16-7. A layin by Michelle Crego and two buckets by Mackenzie Stoyle put Centerburg ahead by seven, 38-31, with just over a minute to go. The teams traded points in the final two minutes — Danville off buckets by Katelyn Walls and Matheny and Centerburg off free throws from Stoyle and Harvey — to make it a 42-35 game after three.
Senior Angie Beekman stretched the Centerburg lead to 11 with two quick buckets in the fourth quarter. She took passes from Stacy Fielding and Carly Compton and converted them for baskets to make it a 46-35 game.
Danville, down but not out, began to get back into a rhythm, however, after Conner returned to the game. In fact, the Blue Devils went on a 10-2 spurt over the next two minutes to pull within three, 48-45, with 4:27 to play. Conner hit a free throw to start the run and knocked down a 3-pointer during it, and Matheny added four points of her own.
That was the last buckets Danville scored, however, while Centerburg managed to put the game away. A jumper by Crego, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, with 3:30 to go made it a five-point lead, and the Blue Devils were forced to foul from there on out. Centerburg hit 5-of-9 free throws down the stretch to finish off the 55-45 victory.
“The one thing we get from Michelle Crego is consistency; she comes to play every day,” said Nauman. “She gives you 110 percent every minute. She had a good game tonight. She got some boards. I thought the shot there in the fourth quarter was great. She pulled up from about 8 or 9 feet out and didn’t hesitate. We needed that one at that point, and she was confident enough to put it in the basket. I thought that was huge.”
Harvey led Centerburg with 15 points, and Stoyle added nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Centerburg held a 47-31 rebounding advantage, while shooting 18-of-54 from the field. The Trojans were also 19-of-29 from the free-throw line.
Matheny was the top Danville scorer, chipping in 15 points and five steals. Hazen added 10 points and seven rebounds, while Ashlee Townsend finished with five points and nine rebounds. Danville shot 17-of-49 from the field, and went 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.
“We didn’t shoot the basketball very well and we made a lot of mistakes,” said Toombs. “I think it has something to do with our depth, but to be a good team like we want to be and know we can be, we just have to fight through it.”
In reserve action, Centerburg jumped ahead early and never looked back, defeating Danville, 56-17. Mikaela Weldy scored 14 points to lead the Trojans, while Haley Bramer added 10 points, and Brandi Holden chipped in eight. Schae Frazee led Danville with five points.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday. Centerburg travels to Utica, while Danville is at Northridge. Both games begin with junior varsity at 1 p.m.