CENTERBURG — The first few minutes of the third quarter are some of the most important of a basketball game. A team that takes control during that stretch can set the tempo for the second half and turn a close game into a win.
That’s exactly what Centerburg did Saturday night. The Trojans opened the third quarter on a 11-0 run and went on to beat Highland, 48-39, in boys basketball action at Centerburg.
“In the third quarter, we needed to take control of the game. We were trigger happy and not patient offensively (in the first half). We needed to get the tempo where we wanted it,” said Centerburg coach Jim Simpson. “We put some pressure on them and allowed only one shot.”
“In the third quarter, we did not come to play and they came out with great intensity,” said Highland coach Mike Hoyng. “We had some good opportunities. ... We’ve just got to play four quarters. We took the third off.”
Highland (3-11) had the tempo and the score in its favor in the first quarter. The Scots didn’t allow a Centerburg bucket in the final three minutes of the quarter and took an 11-6 lead at the break.
The Scots still led, 18-11, midway through the second quarter when the Trojans found some of their rhythm. An 8-0 Trojan run gave them the lead, but Highland got a late basket from Matt Stooksbury to take a one-point lead into the locker room (20-19).
Skyler Simpson was a big force inside for the Trojans (13-2) in the first half, especially in the second-quarter run. Simpson had eight points and nine rebounds at the half.
“Skyler really came to play tonight,” said coach Simpson. “He really stepped up and is starting to get back to his old self. Hopefully, he can take this the rest of the way.”
Centerburg stepped up the intensity another couple of notches in the third quarter. The Trojans scored 11 straight, not allowing a Highland basket until Will Carmichael hit a layup with 2:40 left in the quarter. The Trojans had good balance in the run as five different players scored.
“That’s what we want — more balance,” Simpson said. “We’ve got 11 guys that are capable of scoring every night.”
The Scots tried to come back twice in the fourth, but six points was as close as they would get.
“We played the way we had to to win. We’ve just got to learn to play all four quarters,” Hoyng said.
Skyler Simpson led the Trojans with 12 points and 13 rebounds on the night. Drew Osborne added 11 points and four assists, while Brandt Lambert had nine points.
Highland was led by Ethan Zuber, who had 10 points, and Kyle Cremeans, who had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists. Stooksbury checked in with seven points.
“This is a neat rivalry. Mike (Hoyng) and I are good friends and it’s always been a good game,” coach Simpson said.
The Scots will play host to East Knox on Tuesday at 6 p.m., while the Trojans will travel to Danville on Friday with a chance to grab at least a share of the Mid-Buckeye Conference crown.
Centerburg cruised to a 43-15 victory in the junior varsity game.
Jacob Sutton and Austin Daniels both scored eight points to lead the Trojans. Highland got nine points from Payton Woodruff and four points from Shawn Beltz.
The Centerburg freshmen earned a 31-22 victory. Aaron Katzeman had 11 points in the win for the Trojans, and Zach Holsopple tallied 10 points.