The Clarence Cannon Conference will never be an easy place for a girls varsity basketball team to simply try and hang out or just exist.

It's a fact of life coach Rebecca Schemmer had no choice but to learn quickly. If she hadn't people would talk about the Lady Panthers in terms of the bottom of the league, but this season the squad finished at 12-10 overall and that's not easy to do when, just like a shark, you can never stop moving. Yet, the entire time you're surrounded by larger sharks.

Perhaps that's a bit what Centralia felt like as the sixth-seed when it hosted third-seeded Highland, 15-3 overall, on Monday in the first round of Class 3, District 13. When it came time for the game the Lady Panthers proved they weren't overwhelmed by it all and were absolutely up to the task as Mary Kate Bennett lit up the gym with 20 points, Carter Simkins scored 12 and Kyra Dickerson gave a 10-point exhibition. But, Centralia might have been just a little bit overmatched as it ended up falling 57-54.

"We ended the year on a really great game. The kids gave their all and it was the most exciting game of the year," said Schemmer. "We were up by nine in the second half and Kaitlin Benson for Highland took over the game, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter. She is a high caliber player and is tough to hang on to when she gets hot. I am so proud of my kids and they gave everything they had."

The Lady Panthers finish 2018-19 with a record of 12-12 overall, 3-4 CCC.

In the other opening round games of this district Clark County, 16-9 overall, won 57-44 against Macon, 17-8 overall, and Hallsville, 9-15 overall, lost 75-52 to Monroe City, 19-7 overall. That led to Wednesday's district semifinals where Palmyra, 20-5 overall, defeated Clark County 51-35 and Monroe City slipped past Highland 58-57. The district championship is taking place Saturday at 1:30 p.m.