CENTERBURG — The Centerburg Trojans have a solid grip on their second straight Mid-Buckeye Conference title.
The Trojans needed a win over the second-place Johnstown Johnnies on Saturday to stay ahead in the race to the finish. Thanks to Mackenzie Stoyle’s 17 points and Tristen Simpson’s nine rebounds, Centerburg held off a late surge by Johnstown to win, 66-57.
For a while, it didn’t appear that the game would be close. Centerburg (14-3, 10-1 MBC) had opened up a 16-point lead early in the fourth period. But Johnstown’s starters gathered a second wind, and their full-court pressure forced the Trojans into making mistakes. Laiken Valentine had four steals in the fourth period alone before fouling out with a minute to go.
“We went to sleep when we had that lead,” said Centerburg head coach Todd Nauman. “Then we started shooting too soon. We kicked it around, forcing passes that we didn’t need to do. That created turnovers.”
Despite multiple timeouts called by Nauman, the Trojans couldn’t stop Johnstown (11-4, 7-3 MBC) from shrinking the lead to seven with just under two minutes remaining. At that point, the Johnnies began fouling — perhaps too early, as their strategy had been working up to that point. Johnstown was counting on Centerburg’s lack of success at the free-throw line (16-for-28 — 57.1 percent — on the day). But the Trojans hit enough down the stretch to win.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game,” said Nauman. “But it’s a win. We’ll take it.”
Johnstown’s leading scorer, Paige Cannon, had seven points in the fourth period. She scored 16 overall.