CARBONDALE — The Carbondale girls basketball team built a double-digit lead in the third quarter and held off Centralia, which rallied late, for a 49-45 victory on Tuesday in South Seven Conference action.
Akira Custer, a sophomore, scored seven of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“She had a great summer for us, and she played well early in practice,” Carbondale coach Marialice Jenkins said of Custer. “I felt like she kind of got back on her heels in our first game, but that was really her first varsity experience. She did a great job of shaking it off from that game and coming out ready to play tonight. Akira stepped up big for us, and we’re going to need that from her every night.”
Brianna Simelton scored back-to-back baskets in the third quarter, which gave Carbondale a 36-25 advantage late in the period. But the Terriers never could shake the Annies.
Reece Knolhoff scored eight consecutive points for Centralia, and Allie Fults added a basket in the paint, which pulled the Annies within one point at 38-37 early in the fourth quarter.
But Carbondale (1-1, 1-0) never lost the lead. Custer buried a jump shot and assisted to Amiya Moore for a bucket in the paint. The Terriers led by four points with 3:16 left in the contest.
“I thought we looked like a deer in headlights in our first game, and I didn’t see that tonight,” Jenkins said. “I think being at home helps that some. We’re going to be in close games. We’ll really need some good decision-making late, and we’re going to have to make our free throws. We had an opportunity to push it back up to double digits, and we just weren’t making free throws. Hopefully, those things will slowly come together.”
Leading by just five points with two minutes to play, Carbondale’s full-court defensive attack forced a Centralia turnover. Faith Halliday drained a pair of foul shots to push the Terriers over the top.
“Right now, we haven’t figured out who that kid that’s going to go get a bucket for us when we have to have it is,” Jenkins said. “Most of these kids haven’t had much varsity experience, so we’ll take a win and run with it.”
Halliday added nine points for Carbondale, and Maddie Doan tallied eight. Fults led Centralia with 11 points. Knolhoff and Cydni Wrobel contributed 10 points apiece.