By Kyle Ocker Sports Editor
The Daily Iowegian
---- — CHARITON — The Knoxville Panthers recorded an 82-74 win Monday night in round one of district play, giving the Centerville Big Reds an earlier-then-expected exit out of the district tournament.
Centerville came into the game as the No. 2 seed in the district.
Knoxville and Centerville traded the lead several times in the first half. The Big Reds trailed by only three at the end of the first half.
To start the third quarter, the Big Reds began to show some life in their offense, outscoring the Panthers 20-14 to take a 55-52 lead going into the final eight minutes.
Back to back two-point baskets by Knoxville to start the fourth quarter gave them the lead. A two point shot by Kolton Gonnerman with seven minutes left gave Centerville what would become their final lead of the night.
The Panther’s Trent Davis, a freshman, hit a two-point basket with 6:46 left in the game to give Knoxville the lead they would hold for the rest of regulation.
Centerville would tie the game briefly with four minutes left, but Knoxville would then expand to a double digit lead en route to their victory by 14 points.
The win was just Knoxville’s sixth of the season, as they advance to the next round of post-season play. Knoxville will play Chariton in Albia on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. Chariton beat Oskaloosa 77-59 on Monday in the first round.
Centerville will end the season with a 15-7 record.
The Big Reds will need to replace a group of five seniors before next season. Gonnerman, Michael Starcevich, Garrett Faris, Damon Hoffman and Jared Armington have all played their final high school basketball game. Out of that group, Gonnerman, Starcevich, Faris and Armington were regular starters on the squad.
Starcevich, Faris, Armington and Gonnerman ended the season the top-five scorers for the Reds, respectively. Starcevich led the way with 404 points, averaging 18.4 each game.
Starcevich was also the team’s rebound leader while Gonnerman held the lead for assists, steals and blocks.
“This was a very disappointing loss but Knoxville deserves the credit,” Centerville head basketball coach Matt Kruzich said. “We got caught playing not to lose and they attacked us very well. We could have been more patient offensively and our defense was on its heels due to foul trouble. We are really going to miss our seniors. They have been a very dedicated group and have brought so much success to the program. They are all class act students and individuals.”
Kolton Gonnerman 3-13 1-2 7, Michael Starcevich 7-15 3-6 23, Garrett Faris 6-12 2-2 16, Jared Armington 7-11 1-4 15, Brett Kauzlarich 5-15 1-2 13. Totals 28-67 8-16 74.
Individual stats not available. Totals 30-58 14-19 82.
Centerville 16 19 20 19 — 74
Knoxville 21 17 14 30 — 82
3-Point Goals — Centerville 10-23 (Gonnerman 0-2, Starcevich 6-12, Faris 2-4, Kauzlarich 2-5), Knoxville 8-23. Fouled-Out — Starcevich. Rebounds — Centerville 20 (Armington 7), Knoxville 26. Asissts — Centerville 17 (Gonnerman 7), Knoxville 7.