WARDSVILLE, Mo. - With 1.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter, a 3-point attempt by Centralia senior Kailee Chitwood got stuck in the Centralia rim. The ball must have liked it there, because the Lady Panthers scored twice as frequently as Blair Oaks the remainder of the game and defeated the Lady Falcons 40-32 on Tuesday.
Blair Oaks led most of the first two quarters and all of the third until Ali Massey sank a bucket to put Centralia ahead 25-24 with 46 seconds left. The Lady Panthers scored the next nine points and closed a 14-0 run up 34-24.
The Lady Falcons led by as many as seven less than a minute into the third quarter. Blair Oaks coach Leroy Bernskoetter blamed untimely turnovers for the team's inability to hold the lead.
"It wasn't because of their defense," he said. "We just made bad decisions. And so instead of us coming down being up nine, we turn it over, they come down and score."
Centralia scored four points off turnovers in the third quarter.
"Next thing you knew," Bernskoetter said, "it's a different ball game."
Shooting was also a problem for the Lady Falcons, who made just three field goals in each of the second, third and fourth quarters. Blair Oaks shot 31.8 percent overall and missed nine shots in the fourth quarter.
"With 32 points, you're not going to win too many games," Bernskoetter said. "We made 23 the other day (in a loss to Fatima) ... We've just got to keep working at it to see what happens, but right now we're struggling to put the ball in the hole."
In her second game back from a foot injury, Carli Buschjost ended the Lady Panthers' 14-0 run with a drive and layup. But that would be the Lady Falcons' last field goal for more than three minutes.
Chelsi Emerson, who led Blair Oaks in scoring, notched five of her 10 points with less than two minutes to play. But by the time her 3-pointer fell with four seconds left on the clock, Centralia already had the win well within its grasp.
"I don't know what it is, if they're uptight, they're stressed, they're frustrated," Bernskoetter said. "I don't know what it is, but we're not fluid. We're struggling. It seems like we just stall on our offense."
Chitwood scored a game-high 13 points for Centralia, including the first five of the game.
Sophomore Macyn Wilbers was out for Blair Oaks because of illness.
The junior varsity Lady Falcons beat Centralia 42-32.
The Lady Falcons (4-5) return to the court Friday at home against Warsaw.