CARBONDALE — All one needed to know about Friday night’s game was each team’s shooting stats.
Centralia made 19-of-29 from the field. Carbondale hit 13-of-40.
Therefore, in a South Seven Conference opener that appeared to be full of hope for the Terriers, it was another verse of the same old, same old. The Orphans left town with a 59-47 win, the 2,249th in school history.
Jamie Long took four field goal attempts and scored a game-high 20 points for Centralia (4-1, 1-0), thanks largely to 16-of-19 marksmanship at the foul line. Preston Johannes added 11, going 5-of-6 from the field, and Bryan Meskil distributed six assists against just two turnovers.
Davaris Macklin led Carbondale (4-1, 0-1) with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Thomas Anderson bulled his way inside for 10 points. But the Terriers connected on just five field goals in the first half and trailed 28-17 at the halftime.
Against the fundamentally sound Orphans, who don’t mind to burn a minute of clock at any point in a game, an 11-point deficit feels like 21.
“We shot the ball so poorly,” Carbondale coach Jim Miller said. “We couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean. When you shoot the ball better, it puts more pressure on teams and they change the way they play. That’s a very solid basketball team, and when they had opportunities to score, they took advantage of it.”
Small ball has become the recent craze in basketball. Teams everywhere have tried to copy the Golden State Warriors’ “death” lineup, based on skill and quickness instead of height. Friday night’s competitors took it down to a different level.
Neither team started a player taller than the 6-1 Davaris Macklin, whose skill set screams off-guard or small forward. Centralia’s tallest starter was 6-0 Mason Blakemore. With that as the backdrop, it appeared to be a good sign for the Terriers when the muscular 6-0 Anderson used his bulk to post up for the game’s first two baskets.
His next bucket was in the third quarter, at which point the Orphans had grabbed control. They used a familiar formula – sticky man-to-man defense, patient offense – and mixed in some points off turnovers. They ripped off a 16-5 run to end the first half, getting layups from Long and Johannes in the last 20 seconds to open up a double-figure lead.
“That was a big run,” Centralia coach Lee Bennett said. “It was nice to play with the lead. It was nice to come down here and get a victory. We made some really good plays defensively against a good team. Carbondale’s not big, but they really attack.”
The Terriers drew within 32-26 midway through the third quarter as Macklin drained a pair of 3-pointers, but the Orphans answered with a 9-3 spurt to finish the period as Blakemore canned a 3 and drove for a layup.
Centralia basically kept Carbondale at arm’s length in the fourth quarter, although Macklin and Austin Reliford drilled 3s to make it 53-45 with 2:18 left. However, the Orphans got a layup from Keshaun Jones off a slick bounce pass by Meskil as the clock ticked under two minutes to ice it.
Miller said the game can serve as a learning experience for the Terriers, who were tested once in their 4-0 start. Two wins were blowouts and another was a forfeit as the result of a November 23 brawl in Alton’s tournament.
“In order for us to take steps forward, we have to learn from tonight,” he said.
Learn – and make some shots.