Centralia seeks another championship

The Panthers won the Class 2 football crown four months ago.
Thursday, March 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:15 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Adam Hinspeter and Centralia are after another title.

Four months after he led the Panthers to the Class 2 football title as a quarterback, Hinspeter will try to earn a state basketball title as a guard.

The Panthers (27-2) meet Charleston (26-3) at 12:25 p.m. today in a Class 3 semifinal at Hearnes Center. The three-day tournament featuring 24 boys’ and girls’ teams in Class 1, 2 and 3 starts at 9:15 a.m.

Hinspeter averages 16.8 points and also leads the Panthers in rebounds (6.6).

Centralia beat Cardinal Ritter, last year’s Class 3 champion, to advance to the semifinals.

“The key to postseason success is guard play and defense, and we’ve been pretty consistent in that all season,” Centralia coach David Meyers said.

Mountain Grove (26-3) will play Maryville (24-6) in the other semifinal at 2 p.m. Mountain Grove starts two sophomores, including guard Brett Collins, who averages 21 points.

“We’re pretty mature for being young,” Mountain Grove coach Duane Hiler said. “I don’t know if (youth) helps you or hurt you.”

Today’s action starts at 9:15 a.m. with Class 3 girls’ competition. Hancock (26-2) meets St. Louis Metro (28-2), which had the hardest path to Columbia. After defeating Lutheran (St. Peters) 62-35 in the sectional finals, the Pirates handed Boonville its first loss, 59-57 in the quarterfinals.

Stephanie Cook, a Central Missouri State recruit, leads California (26-3) against Stockton’s five starting seniors in the other semifinal at 10:50 a.m.

This year’s tournament will mark the end of the dynasty for Stockton, coach Tony Armstrong said. The Tigers (28-1) have made the trip to Columbia the past three years, winning last year and in 2001.

“It’s great; they’re so experienced,” Armstrong said. “They’re pretty good about big games.”

All four teams from last year’s girls’ Class 2 semifinals return to Columbia tonight. Defending champion Skyline (28-2) takes on a changed St. Joseph Christian team at 6:20 p.m. The Lions (30-0) have become more perimeter orientated since last year, thanks to the play of senior guards Holly Heintz and Jackie Rose.

Despite being undefeated, Christian coach Danny Maggart knows Skyline is the team to beat.

“We’re pretty realistic this year,” he said. “The intent was not to be undefeated, that’s for sure, but we’ll take it.”

The Class 2 boys’ semifinals include surprise teams. Senath-Hornersville (20-6) upset East Carter and Belle to travel to Hearnes and Van-Far (26-3) beat Harrisburg in the quarterfinals to earn its spot in Columbia.

Marionville (25-4) will need a career game from senior guard Nick Smart to defeat Lone Jack (29-0) at 9:30 p.m. Lone Jack, making its first semifinal appearance, is 75-2 the past three years, and senior guard Kevin Born will get a second chance at a title after breaking his right ankle against West Platte in sectional finals last year.

“The seniors decided five minutes after the loss that they were going back,” Lone Jack coach Chris Johnson said.

The Class 1 semifinals begin Friday with girls’ games at 4:45 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. All-State guards will meet when Jessi Pierce and Chadwick (22-7) open play against Jenny Elsea and defending champion Brashear (30-0).

“We’re going to play our game, get the turnovers and convert some points out of them,” Brashear coach Sara Parish said.

In the boys’ semifinals, St. Elizabeth (21-8) beat LaMonte in double overtime in the sectional finals, and then sneaked past Golden City in the quarterfinals. The Hornets will play North Andrew (25-5), which upset Braymer in the quarterfinals.

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