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By David Sharp
Highland stemmed a rising Centralia tide with defensive pressure in the early stages of their February 10, 2022 rescheduled girl’s game with a very good Panther team. Centralia sprang to an early 9-3 lead.
Carly Murphy and Rachel Bringer came off the Highland bench and hit key shots evening out the fast Panther start. Highland forced turnovers and scored at critical times for a 55-44 win.
Centralia is a 13 win team that has beaten conference powers Palmyra and Macon this season. Highland pulled within a 9-7 first quarter deficit. The Lady Cougars were able to keep the score in a winnable range.
Highland (13-10) outscored Centralia 12-8 in the second quarter for a 19-17 halftime lead. Ali Reed answered a Morgan Ross three for a 17-15 Cougar lead with 3:48 to play in the first half.
Ansley Bringer scored off a neat looking under hand scoop lay up for a 19-15 lead late in the second quarter. Ali Reed stepped up and hit a three, snapping a 23 all tie with 4:38 to play in the third quarter. Reed sank two of three free throws for a 28- 24 edge with 4:23 to play in the period.
Carly Murphy hit a momentum changing three pointer for a 31-26 lead with 3:51 to play in the third. Morgan Ross pulled Centralia back within three points with 3:29 remaining in the third quarter.
When Centralia would make a move, Highland had a counter punch. Ansley Bringer canned a three for a 34-28 lead with 3:08 on the clock.
Ansley Bringer gave the Lady Cougars a seven point lead with 1:47 showing on the third quarter clock. Highland outscored Centralia 19-14 in the third quarter for a 38-31 lead.
The Lady Cougars were able to make enough plays and score enough points to keep pressure on the visitors, and off themselves. Morgan Keith and Ali Reed scored field goals off good ball movement midway through the third quarter.
Ansley Bringer put Highland ahead 48-35 with 2:31 to play in the game. Elly Crum answered with a three point play seconds later. Ansley Bringer took advantage of a costly Centralia turnover for a 50-38 lead with 1:20 to play in the game.
Summer Goings sank a free throw with 6.2 seconds to play in the game. Highland outscored Centralia 17-13 down the stretch for the 55-44 win.
“Centralia is a very good basketball team,” Highland coach Ashton Jaco said. “We knew covering them was going to be really difficult. They are good inside. They have good shooters.”
“The girls just went to work,” Ashton Jaco said. “They just worked hard and flew around. Even when we made mistakes, we played through those mistakes. We rebounded really, really well.”
“They are just a good team. We did all those little things that helped us win.”
Ansley Bringer led all scorers with 21 points. Ali Reed fired in 13 points. Eight different Lady Cougars scored. Morgan Keith tallied eight points. Carly Murphy scored five points.
Rachel Bringer and Dallas Dare scored three points each. Carissa Schroeder added one point. Morgan Ross led Centralia with 13 points. Jozelynn Bostick scored eight Panther points.