CENTERBURG — No team wants to head into the tournament with a poor game, but Centerburg and Highland suffered that fate in their season finale on Wednesday. Turnovers and missed shots marred both performances, and only a big fourth quarter gave the host Trojans a 28-25 victory.
Centerburg (16-6, 11-3) closed the regular season in second place in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference with an 11-3 mark, and Highland was fourth at 8-6. Despite the low point total, Centerburg finished on a nine-game winning streak and won 12 of its last 14 games. It also broke a string of 13 straight games with more than 40 or more points.
The Trojans shot 10 of 31 (32 percent) to 10 of 40 (25 percent) for the Scots (9-13, 8-6), and each made one three-point shot. But while Highland was 4 of 6 at the line, Centerburg struggled, going 7 of 17 (41 percent). The Scots had an edge in turnovers, 18-24, but the Trojans led in rebounds, 31-28.
Centerburg was at its lowest point in the first quarter, scoring only four points. Highland only did a little better with six points to hold a two-point lead. The Scots improved to seven points in the second quarter to add two more points to its advantage, and led 13-9 at the break. The Trojans did not help themselves with 15 turnovers in the half.
Centerburg made some inroads to the lead in the third quarter, even when scoring just six points, as it held Highland to its game-low of four points to take the lead down to 17-15.
Both teams played their best ball of the night in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans’ offense especially woke up. They scored half of their 10 field goals in the period, and also went 4 of 6 at the stripe compared to 2 of 9 in the second and third quarters together. Once Centerburg took the lead, Cierra Joiner was able to secure it at the line, going 3 of 4 down the stretch.
Joiner was the only double-digit scorer in the game with 12 for the Trojans, and she also added eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Savannah Gammell had seven points, and Sidney Fields and Olivia Vance collected four points apiece. Fields led the team with four steals, and Gammell and Vance grabbed seven boards each.
Madison Cecil’s six points topped Highland, and Brooklyn Baird tallied five points. Erica Sardinha and Kenzie Fuller recorded four points apiece, and Gena West, Raven Tilford and Savannah Fitzpatrick finished with two points each. Sardinha chipped in six assists and five steals, and she and Cecil hauled in four rebounds apiece.
Centerburg was the junior varsity winner, 34-26.
Centerburg, the No. 8 seed in the Division III Central District Sectional tournament, will host 10th-seeded Elgin on Tuesday at 7 p.m. No. 14 Highland will play its Division II Sectional at 12th-seeded Licking Valley the same night and time.