CARBONDALE — The Carbondale boys basketball team faced a must-win situation if it wanted any chance at a South Seven Conference title when eighth-ranked Centralia came to town on Friday night.
The Terriers led nearly the whole way and picked up a 51-42 victory over the Orphans.
Centralia fell to 15-4 overall and 5-1 in conference play. Carbondale improved to 17-5 and 6-1. The teams have split their season series.
“What a great effort, collectively, our kids gave tonight,” said Carbondale coach Jim Miller. “I couldn’t be happier with them following the game plan. We made everybody have to work for everything.”
Carbondale held a 12-point lead after three quarters, and Darius Beane scored in the paint to open the fourth period. But the Orphans ramped up the full-court pressure and ripped off nine points in 40 seconds to cut their deficit to just five points.
Jamie Long started the streak with a 3-pointer, and the Orphans turned three straight steals into baskets.
“We went braindead there, and the pressure got to us,” Miller said. “Quality teams are going to make runs. But it’s how you handle those runs and counter them that matters. I thought our kids did a good job of recognizing what had been working for us and getting back to that.”
After the Centralia run, Beane threw a full-court pass to Clayton Greer for a basket. Moments later, Beane delivered a bucket on the fast break to push the advantage back to nine points.
Beane scored a game-high 25 points.
“Darius was outstanding at both ends of the floor, and I thought this was probably his best defensive effort of the year,” Miller said of Beane. “The effort he showed tonight was a D-I effort. If he continues to grow and prosper like that, SIU has got a good one.”
Javon Williams racked up 19 points for the Orphans. The Terriers basically could not handle him in the paint. But senior forward Jordan Maines has been a Carbondale killer over the years. Not this time.
The Terriers held Maines to just six shot attempts and seven points in the contest.
“When you’ve got a two-headed monster like Centralia has, you’ve got to try to eliminate one’s opportunities,” Miller said. “Maines is such a quality scorer, but not only that, he does a good job of distributing the basketball. Clayton Greer did a fantastic job of making Maines work for everything he got. It took effort for him to touch it.”
Beane scored 10 of his points in the first quarter, and the Terriers grabbed a six-point lead. Carbondale extended its advantage to 11 at halftime.