The Monroe City boys basketball team fell victim to Centralia's 20-4 run to close the fourth quarter in a 70-54 loss on Friday night.
As the fourth quarter started Friday night, there was a playoff atmosphere for the 400-plus fans who packed the Centralia High School gymnasium for a Clarence Cannon Conference showdown.
It was a game of large leads lost and regained, Monroe City turnovers, timely Centralia 3-pointers and 19 first-half fouls that slowed the pace of the action.
With the score tied at 50 with 3:59 remaining, Centralia began a 20-4 tear to beat Monroe City, 70-54.
After trailing by as many as 13 points, Monroe City (19-4, 4-2 CCC) came out charging in the third quarter, holding the home team to nine points in the period while posting 19 to tie the score at 45 entering the fourth.
Centralia (15-7, 6-0) took control of the game halfway through the final period, taking advantage of Monroe City miscues, turnovers and errant shots, holding the visitors to nine points over the final eight minutes while scoring 25 en route to the win.
“We just made too many mistakes, made too many turnovers to win,” Monroe City coach Brock Edris said.
Centralia took control early, racing out to a 7-2 lead, which included a technical foul on the Monroe City bench because the team failed to list Bryce Stark in the pregame scorebook.
The home Panthers were paced by John Durant and Nic Brooks in the first period, and by aggressive shooting from Peyton Davis, who pumped in seven first-quarter points.
Centralia controlled the entire first half, taking what seemed like a commanding 36-26 lead into halftime.
After struggling against Monroe City in the third quarter, Centralia could not be stopped in the last four critical minutes of the game.
“It was a pretty good fourth quarter,” Centralia coach Scott Humphrey said. “Peyton Davis did a great job on defense….our defense won the game tonight. I am so proud of these guys. I knew Monroe City was going to make a run, but I have faith in my kids. We talk about those situations all the time.”
Edris credited Centralia for simply out-playing his team at the end of the game.
“They did a good job of making plays and playing hard,” Edris said. “We were just not on defensively tonight. Hats off to coach Humphrey, who had them lined out and focused. They played the better game.”
Edris noted the 11 fouls called on his team in the first half took his players out of sync.
“It is just one of those things….it was tough and it did impact the flow, but both teams had to respond to the way the game was called,” Edris said.
C.E. Talton paced Monroe City with 18 points, while Blake Hays provided 15 in the loss.
Davis posted 14 points for Centralia, while Gary Morin added 13 in the win.
Monroe City plays at Brookfield on Tuesday.