Centralia girls share in 66-20 win vs Van-Far in home tournament

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 12/7/22

The Centralia girls showcased the importance of sharing on the court Monday.

The Lady Panthers finished with 19 assists and 10 of their girls scored to defeat Van-Far 66-20 in the first round of …

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Centralia girls share in 66-20 win vs Van-Far in home tournament

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The Centralia girls showcased the importance of sharing on the court Monday.

The Lady Panthers finished with 19 assists and 10 of their girls scored to defeat Van-Far 66-20 in the first round of the Centralia Invitational Tournament. Van-Far had another double-double performance from Mara Jensen at 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Carmen Wilburn scored the rest of the team’s points.

Centralia head coach Megan Brinkmann said the team has several girls who can impact the game, and it’s always nice when it has nights like Monday. Five Lady Panthers had scored by the end of the first quarter, and eight were on the scoreboard by halftime, when Centralia was ahead 44-10.

“I love watching everybody score,” Brinkmann said. “I thought we were passing the ball extremely well. We (always) have five girls on the floor who can score.”

Morgan Ross led Centralia (3-1) in scoring for the second straight game, tallying 16 points while knocking down two 3-pointers. Braylin Brunkhorst followed with 14 points, two 3-pointers and four steals, Raegan Anderson had 11 points and was 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, Shelby Lewis had five points and six rebounds, and Jozelynn Bostick added five assists, five rebounds and four steals. The Lady Panthers shot 7-for-12 from 3-point territory.

As Centralia’s lead grew, Jensen was active in the post, going against at least two Lady Panthers oftentimes as she was driving to the rim. She finished with points in every quarter except the fourth quarter, when the Lady Indians (1-3) were shut out. Wilburn gave Van-Far its first points not scored by Jensen at 2:46 left in the third quarter after hitting a free throw.

Van-Far head coach Heather Minter said the team has to push each other to be better. She said it’s early enough in the season that some girls could emerge in spots.

“I told the kids in the locker room we’ve got areas that we’re looking to fill that we’re not comfortable with,” Minter said. “Our younger kids are just going to have to start looking for minutes and pushing the older kids. Until we fill those other positions, our guard play is weak right now. We can’t rely on Carmen and Mara to win us games because it’s just not going to happen.”

Centralia began the game with an 8-0 run that was snapped by a Jensen fadeaway jumper before the Lady Panthers closed strong with a 19-6 lead after the first quarter.

The Lady Panthers put together their biggest run in the second quarter with 19 straight points. Whenever Centralia had the ball in transition, it was a smooth two of three passes before a Lady Panther was oftentimes open for layup. Ross reaped the benefits as she galloped down the floor, posting another leading performance after scoring 21 points against Marshall.

“We work a lot on that and talk about it a lot — getting the ball up the floor,” Brinkmann said. “We make good stuff happen out of it. The girls have been together for a long time now, and I feel like they know where each other is going to be.

“Morgan, you’ve got to find her. She’ll shoot, which is great, and I thought she got to the rim really well too. She can be a complete player.”

Van-Far was able to lob some passes over the Centralia defense to Jensen in the high post in the second quarter. Jensen continued to be a force in the post in the third quarter and presented a challenge for the Lady Panther defense.

“(Jensen) has a soft touch, and you can’t let her catch it around the basket,” Brinkmann said. “We tried fronting her and playing behind. Guarding really hard and making it hard to get that pass to Jensen — she scored some points, but overall I thought it was really well done. Harper Sontheimer and Kaelyn Walters both guarded her and did a good job.”

Minter said Van-Far does want its offense to be more than it was Monday night but needs to develop more scoring over time.

“Carmen knows her job is to take care of the ball, and we want to look at Mara as scoring,” Minter said. “We’re not going to be successful with just looking for Mara to score points all the time.”

Centralia had a 58-20 lead after the third quarter, which is when Katie Carrico scored on a transition layup to make her the ninth Lady Panther to score. Annaka Hombs became the 10th after making a free throw in the fourth quarter.

The freshman Brunkhorst upped her career-high after scoring 13 points against Marshall by knocking down a 3-pointer and taking a layup to the rim in the fourth quarter.

“I still think she’s trying to figure out the speed a little bit in the game,” Brinkmann said. “She’s someone who can also guard on defense and gives us a spark on offense so I’m glad to see she’s kind of breaking through it.”

Centralia faces Harrisburg (5-0), who defeated North Callaway on Tuesday, at 6 p.m. today in the championship bracket. Van-Far plays Eastern Missouri Conference foe North Callaway (1-3) at 9 p.m. today, with the loser being eliminated from the tournament.

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