Central-Southeastern showcases growth and potential in lopsided Shootout victory
QUINCY — Matt Long is quick to point out his Central-Southeastern girls basketball team is still quite young with two sophomores and a junior in the starting lineup.
“They haven’t been in the big wars,” he said. “Even if they were last year as freshmen, they don’t really understand what the big game is.”
Still, the Panthers are growing more knowledgeable and it shows.
Saturday, in the KHQA-American Family Insurance Superfan Shootout at The Pit, the Panthers complemented a disruptive defense with an opportunistic offensive effort in a 59-26 victory over Alton Marquette at Quincy Notre Dame’s The Pit.
The Panthers led 34-8 at halftime, dismantling the Explorers with pressure.
“We had plenty of time to prepare for them,” Long said. “Our kids knew what they were going to do by the sets they were in, and we worked on what we needed to do to disrupt it. Our kids followed the game plan. It was nice to see us get to that level.”
Better yet, the Panthers, ranked sixth in Class 2A with a 26-3 record, turned the Explorers’ mistakes into points and were efficient offensively.
“That’s something we haven’t done all year,” Long said. “A lot of times we’ll get a turnover and we might throw it out of bounds going the other way. A couple of adjustments with what we’re allowing the kids to do and not do when they’re coming down the floor on breaks is helping us take care of the ball. It’s helped develop their basketball IQ.”
Senior guard Abbey McMillen, named the game MVP, finished with 18 points, knocking down four 3-pointers.
“It just so happened to be Abbie day,” Long said. “I thought all of our guards played well.”
The forwards did, too. Parker Crim, a junior, scored 15 points and gave the Panthers a presence in the paint.
“We don’t just rely on one or two players,” Long said. “We have four or five kids that can come out on any given night and hurt you.”
That’s earned the Panthers the No. 3 seed in a loaded sub-sectional that includes the No. 1- and 2-ranked teams in the state with postseason looming a week away.
“The girls have gone above and beyond what we expected them to do,” Long said.
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