CENTERBURG — The Centerburg High School girls basketball team turned a slow start into a stellar finish on Monday night.
Hosting Canal Winchester in a nonleague game, the Trojans started the game 0-of-6 from the field, but a layup by Mackenzie Stoyle with 41 seconds left broke a 42-all tie and a rebound by Stoyle in the closing seconds gave Centerburg the victory. In between, it was a physical game
“I’m extremely pleased with the way we finished,” said Centerburg coach Todd Nauman. “It was a bit of an ugly game, but I can go back through and find positives with every one of my players. ... Everyone contributed, and when it is a 40-point ballgame, everything is critical. You’ve got to have stops, you’ve got to have rebounds; you’ve got to execute. We were on and off, but it was a good, physical game. The bottom line is we got the W.”
The Indians (9-5) scored the first two buckets of the game as Centerburg (8-6) struggled from the field. Two free throws by Stacy Fielding finally got the Trojans on the scoreboard with 5:19 to play in the first quarter and, following a 3-pointer by Canal Winchester’s Cara Jeffers, the Trojans put together back-to-back buckets. A putback, 3 -pointer and a layup by Claire Harvey lifted Centerburg into the lead, 9-7, with 2:16 to play, but the Indians closed the quarter with six straight points, including another 3 by Jeffers, and led, 13-9, after one quarter.
“We were playing solid defense,” said Nauman. “I don’t know if it was their pressure or what, but the bottom line is if you want to win ball games, you have to score more points.”
Centerburg seemed to right some wrongs in the second quarter. Stoyle took a pass from Carolyn Moore and drained a 3-pointer to open the quarter, and that shot started a 8-1 run by the Trojans in the first four minutes. Tristen Simpson converted a three-point play to add to the run, and Moore and Fielding each sank 1-of-2 free throws.
Canal Winchester got back into the game with layups from Tykia Savage and Kaleigh Whitlatch, and a free throw by Kayla Scott with 55 seconds left gave the Indians a two-point lead, 19-17. Stoyle took a pass from Meghan Altizer with 40 seconds to go and drained another 3, however, to give Centerburg the lead — and some momentum — heading into the locker room.
“That shot was big,” Nauman said. “I love momentum, especially when it involves points.”
Savage put the Indians on her back in the third quarter, scoring four of the team’s first six points. An assist from Savage to Ashley Dexter, who laid the ball in, gave Canal Winchester the lead, and another free throw by Savage made it a two-point game with 5:21 on the clock. A 3-pointer by Harvey halted the Indians, though, and started a 9-2 Centerburg run. A jumper by Michelle Crego with 1:35 to go in the quarter made it a five-point game, 32-27, but Savage trimmed the lead to two, 34-32, with 31 seconds left. Fielding hit a jumper with 11 seconds left to put the lead at four entering the final quarter.
Canal Winchester continued to attack the basket in the first three-plus minutes of the fourth quarter. Two buckets by Savage bookended a 3-pointer by Whitlatch and put the Indians up by one, 39-38, with 4:52 to play. It also forced a timeout by Nauman, and the Trojans responded.
Harvey and Moore each scored buckets to re-establish a 42-39 lead, but Jeffers’ third 3-pointer of the night tied it with 1:03 to play. That set up Stoyle’s layup off an assist from Moore with 41 seconds left. The Trojans had an opportunity to put the game away from the free-throw line, but missed the front end of two 1-and-1s. Stoyle rebounded the first miss, which ate enough time off the clock to seal the win. Emily Barnhart lofted one last desperation 3 as time ran down, but the shot missed its target.
Harvey led Centerburg with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. She also had eight rebounds. Stoyle had 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals; and Fielding and Simpson each had five points and six rebounds apiece.
Savage led Canal Winchester with 20 points, 15 rebounds and three steals. Jeffers added 12 points.
For Centerburg, Monday’s game is the start of a long week. Coming off a loss to Loudonville, the win over Canal Winchester gets things head back in the right direction, which will be especially good with Fredericktown and Northridge coming to town later this week.
“Playing on Monday night was not an ideal scenario, but it is a good win,” Nauman said. “It is much easier to come to practice tomorrow with a win.
“We’d like to have a good week, but you’ve got to take it one game at a time,” added Nauman. “Fredericktown is coming next, and obviously by looking at the scores, they are improved and are playing better. Their kids have gotten better, so they will come in here looking for a win on Thursday night. We’ve got to be ready to go and do a little bit better job than we did tonight.”
Note: The start time for Saturday’s game against Northridge has been changed. Originally scheduled for 1 p.m., the junior varsity will now begin at 6 p.m. with the varsity contest to follow.
Centerburg jumped on Canal Winchester in junior varsity action and coasted to a 46-32 victory on Monday night. Freshmen Haley Bramer and Mikaela Weldy each had 10 points to lead Centerburg. Weldy added seven rebounds.