By Frank Finley
Whoever said basketball is a non-contact sport did not witness the Southern Boone Eagles clash in Centralia versus the Panthers on Tuesday, Feb. 18, in a basketball game that appeared at times more like a Muay Thai grudge match than a graceful game of hoops. Bodies slid across the floor chasing loose balls and elbows flew in a physical bout with the Lady Eagles answering the bell and at the buzzer raising their hands in a 57-31 victory.
Eagles head coach, Damon Wren, was not surprised by the Panthers aggressive play.
“Centralia has always been known for playing hard-nosed and are always very physical,” he stated. “They are coached really well and all their players know their role.”
Both teams started the first quarter slow with the Eagles showing a more conservative offense. Southern Boone trailed after the first quarter 9-6. Both squads picked up the pace in the second quarter and the Eagles were able to claw their way to a 21-15 lead at the half.
“We started the game slow and passive offensively, but picked up our pace and were more aggressive on both sides of the ball after the first quarter,” Wren explained. “We threw a variety of defenses at them as well, which we were able to switch very quickly and put a lot of pressure on their guards, resulting in turning them over.”
In the second half Southern Boone installed a smother defense, stealing balls and intercepting passes, out-scoring the Panthers 16-7 in the third quarter. That’s when Centralia leaned on their physical style of basketball in an attempt to intimidate their way back into the game.
With sweat and grit the Lady Eagles forced the issue and expanded their lead out-scoring the Panthers 20-7 in the final frame.
Trinity Schupp led the team scoring 13 points with nine rebounds. Mariah Prince scored 12 points and four steals to spur the defense.
Coach Wren feels the Eagles defensive play was vital in the win.
“Mia Crow was really a big spark off the bench with her contribution on defense that really helped expand our lead,” he added.
The Lady Eagles record stands at an impressive 20-3 this season as they look forward to their next opponent at Boonville on Friday, Feb. 21. The Pirates hold a 19-3 record and always play tough versus Southern Boone.