Thirty minutes after watching the Boonville Pirates basketball team fall to Centralia 62-59 Tuesday night at the Windsor gymnasium, head coach Mark Anderson was still having a hard time piecing everything together.
The Pirates played well enough to win and had a eight point lead early in the fourth quarter. So what was the difference in the last meeting in which Boonville defeated Centralia 57-48 back on Dec. 14 and this game?
Boonville coach Mark Anderson said he thought it was just a great high school game.
“This was two teams that were pretty good that went at it but we just fell a little bit short,” Anderson said. “I thought they just made a couple more plays. I told the kids after the game that if we play like this, we are going to win a lot of games. I don’t like to lose but I’m much happier how we played tonight than some of those games against Macon and Mexico. The other thing to think about is that we have to do a better job of stopping the other teams best player.”
Of course in a three point game at the end, it’s safe to say that both teams had their chances early on.
Boonville led 17-16 at the end of the first period but trailed at one point by as much as seven before going on a 7-0 run to close out the quarter.
In the second period, the Panthers again had a six point lead at 27-21 with 4:14 left before allowing Boonville to reel off 10 straight to make it 31-27.
Of course it was Centralia’s turn to right the ship this time. The Panthers rallied back with  a three by senior Guy Moran and a three-point play by senior Nick Brooks to tie the game at the half at 33-all.
Centralia held a 17-16 advantage in the second quarter.
Anderson said he felt the Panthers imposed their will a little bit more this game versus the first meeting. Although Centralia cut it back to eight late in the first meeting, Boonville led by as much as 20 going into the fourth quarter.
That wasn’t the case this time.
Boonville still imposed its will at times, especially in the third quarter after outscoring Centralia 17-11 to lead 50-44.
The Pirates also led by as much as eight after a basket by junior Kayle Rice to make it 52-44 with 7:46 left in the game.
But it’s what happened late that will forever give coach Anderson nightmares as the Panthers rallied from a 54-49 deficit to lead by one (55-54) with 2:49 left.
“I thought Centralia was much more physical in this game than they had been the first time,” Anderson said. “We’re a big, physical team and you’ve kind of got to do that with us and I thought they did a better job of that. Instead of settling for threes like they did the first time, they worked the ball inside and got some things inside. I also knew they weren’t going to play that bad again, and they didn’t.”
Of course it didn’t hurt that senior John Durant got hot from the three-point line in the fourth quarter for Centralia. While Moran had three threes in the first half for the Panthers, Durant came back with two big threes in the fourth to cut Boonville’s lead to two at 54-52.
From there it was back and forth. Boonville took a 57-55 lead after a three by sophomore Luke Green to go up two only to have Moran follow it up with a three to put the Panthers on top 58-57 with 1:23 left.
After that both teams tried to give the game away with back to back turnovers. Unfortunately for Boonville, they had one big one in the final seconds as senior Dallas Lewis picked up a steal on an errant pass and scored to push the lead to 60-57.
The Pirates still had a shot, though. After a tipped shot led to another Boonville possession, senior Tramell Coleman scored on a layup to cut the lead to one at 60-59.
Anderson said the coaching staff drew up something to get a three. “We had two options to go up for a three but took a two,” Anderson said. “I think the kids just saw a wide open two and took it. It was a bad, careless decision there at the end, but we were still down by one at that point. There was no guarantee that we would have come down and score anyway.”
Centralia coach Scott Humphrey said he knew they were going to try and take the three. “We were going to try and take away the three but I didn’t want to give them a four point play, either,” Humphrey said.
As it turned out, Boonville took a two instead of a three and were forced to foul with 1.1 seconds left. The Panthers made both foul shots to seal the win.
Centralia also outscored Boonville 18-9 in the fourth.
Moran finished the game with 20 for Centralia while Durant added 18. Dallas Lewis had nine points and Jackson Wells eight.
For Boonville, who dropped to 12-3, Tramell Coleman finished the game with 16 while Charlie Bronakowski chipped in 14. Luke Green added nine, D.J. Wesolak, Lane West and Kayle Rice six points each and Tyson Franklin with two points.
Centralia also won the JV game over Boonville 74-42.
The Pirates, dropping to 1-7 on the season, trailed Centralia 43-20 at the half and then were outscored 32-22 in the second half.
“Tonight we just gave a poor defensive effort and really didn’t give ourselves much of a chance,” said Boonville JV coach Brock Hill. “Everything was to easy for Centralia tonight.  They were able to get into the paint whenever they wanted and they did a good job of finishing when they got there.  Centralia also just flat beat us down the floor in transition far to often.  We have to guard teams better than we did tonight plain and simple.  Offensively we struggled to keep the ball in our hands.  To many of our offensive possessions ended with turnovers.  We got a lot of shots from driving in the lane that we just didn’t finish.  Shots that usually fall but just didn’t tonight.  We really let the game get away from us right from the tip.  They went up 7-0 and never looked back.  Centralia led 23 at half and 37 after three.  These losses are not fun but the only thing we can do now is put it behind us and concentrate on getting better in practice tomorrow.”
Grant Erisman led three players in double figures for Centralia with 19 points. Beau Gordan added 18 and Eli Carter with 12.
For Boonville, Colby Caton had 10, Andrew Wiser eight, Axton Nease six, Edrissa Bah and Jordan Fishburn each with five, Aidan Lemmons and DaWan Lomax with three each and Caidyn Hazel with two.