The top two scorers in the conference met on Tuesday night when Centerville battled Knoxville. The Big Reds gave the Panthers a game,, but a cold-shooting fourth led Knoxville over Centerville 65-56.
Centerville’s Matthew McDonald (21.8 PPG) and Knoxville’s Kieren Nichols (28.8 PPG) were looking to lead their squads to a conference victory and both showed out by scoring above their season averages.
The Big Reds might of shocked the Panthers early on as they were attacking the rim and the glass and were able to jump out to a 13-2 lead. Centerville continued to execute their offense well but Knoxville began to knock down their own shots with Nichols’ late pull-up three just before the buzzer cut Centerville’s lead to 21-18 after eight minutes of action.
It’s was an impressive offensive display by both teams in the first half. Centerville increased their lead to 10 before back-to-back threes by Nichols saw the Big Reds’ lead shrink to 32-28 with 3:14 left in the half.
McDonald and Brady Kauzlarich finished the half strong, combining for 27 points as Centerville held a 38-33 lead at the break.
A couple of Centerville turnovers to start the half put the game in a deadlock at 38 all two minutes into the third. Both teams would exchange baskets for the majority of the quarter with Knoxville holding a 52-49 lead going into the final eight minutes.
After the offense had been flowing for most of the game, the well dried up for Centerville, who only made one basket in the final quarter.
Despite that, Centerville trailed by two with four minutes to go when Knoxville’s Luke Keitges would knock down an open three at the top of the key, giving the Panthers a 57-52 lead with 3:51 to go.
The Big Reds had some good looks from three down the stretch but they wouldn’t fall as Knoxville would hold on for the win.
The Panthers grabbed their eighth straight win after losing their season opener. They were led by Nichols’ game-high 31 points.
For Centerville, McDonald put together another solid night with 24 points while Kauzlarich also continues to string together good nights with 17 points.
Centerville (3-7) continues their homestand on Friday at 7:45 p.m. when they battle Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (3-5).