O'Fallon can't quite keep pace with Centralia

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.December 7, 2013 

— After falling behind early, the O'Fallon Panthers spent the whole game chasing the Centralia Orphans, and they just couldn't catch them.

Jerod Simmons-Young scored 22 points as the Orphans ran their record to 5-0 with a 60-53 win over the Panthers on Saturday night.

"They got off to a good start," O'Fallon coach Rick Gibson said. "They shot the ball well at the start of the game and they built the lead on us, and we could never get over the hump."

The Panthers drew within 46-44 on a 3-pointer by Darien McClain with 3:50 left in the fourth quarter, but the Orphans broke the Panthers' press for layups by Simmons-Young and Chase Alcorn during a 6-0 run that put them back in command.

"They have a lot ballhandlers, and they're a deep team," Gibson said. "They're able to rotate a lot of guys in, keep guys fresh. So late in the game, it's not like you have a worn-down team. They have a lot experience. They basically return the same guys they had last year, and it pays off."

The Panthers were paced by Donovan Franklin with 18 points. McCain added 14 points and Chance Armstrong had 11 points.

The Panthers dropped to 2-3 on the young season.

"We're 2-3 and we've played five really good teams," Gibson said. "As I tell the kids, now we get into the Southwestern Conference and there are no cupcakes on our schedule. It is what it is.

"We deserve to lose the games we lost. They were close games and we've battled to the point where we hung around, but we just aren't to the point where we are fine-tuning enough things to win those games. It'll come."

The Orphans also got 14 points from Alcorn, nine points from Ryan Obermeier and seven points from Jake Wood.

"I just feel like there were a lot of layups there to make to get a 15- to-20-point win," Centralia coach Lee Bennett said of his team missing several shots from close range. "You don't have to make all of them, but gosh, don't you need to make more than half of your layups.

"We did a lot of good things to get in that position. We beat their pressure some."

The Orphans connected on six 3-pointers in first half in taking a 33-27 lead.

Simmons-Young hit a 3-pointer during a 7-0 run that launched the Orphans out to a 9-2 lead.

Obermeier, a 6-foot guard, also had two rebound baskets during the early surge.

"We made shots," Bennett said. "And, we got enough open shots. There early we hit a couple, but we missed some, too. We got some offensive rebound baskets against their zone and we were getting (defensive) stops early. I thought that was important."

Franklin, who had 14 points in the first half, scored the last two baskets of the first quarter as the Panthers closed the gap to 19-13.

However, the Orpans got 3s from Wood and Alcorn at the start of the second quarter to open up a 23-13 advantage.

Chance Armstrong came off the bench to score off a spin move as the Panthers trimmed their deficit to 30-24.

Centralia's Marcellus Lewis and Franklin exchanged 3s in the final 1:03 of the first half.

The Panthers cut their deficit to 37-33 on a jumper from the wing by Armstrong, but Alcorn hit a pull-up jumper off the glass to put the Orphans ahead 39-33 during a low-scoring third quarter that saw both teams score just six points.

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