Three late pins gave the Rapid City Central wrestling team the breathing room it needed in stopping Sturgis 38-28 Thursday night at Naasz Gymnasium.

The teams traded some early momentum, with Central up 17-12, only to see the Scoopers score 10 straight points heading into the 170-pound match.

But Central took control with pin falls from Kolby Kost (170), Bridger Kraye (182) and Nolan Smith (195). Smith’s pin gave the Cobblers a 13-point edge with two matches to go.

Those three straight pins late were just what the Cobblers needed, Central coach Lance Pearson said. If they didn’t get those three pins, he added, it might be a nail biter down to the end.

“The guys below them had done their job and kept it close enough that those three pins could give us the distance,” he said. “Otherwise, they could have done some moving around and made it interesting. Once we established that it didn’t matter if they got two pins on top, that kind of took that out of play and they just wrestled straight up with us.”

Sturgis coach Mike Abell said that they would have moved their lineup around in the final two matches if they were in striking distance.

“Our goal was to have at least an 11-point dual going into 220 pounds, so we could flip-flop Joel (Carpenter) and Clayton (Smith),” Abell said.

It was a bit of an uneven match, with both teams young in places the other was experienced in. The match started with three pins and two major decisions. There were seven pin falls overall.

The difference between a regular decision and a major decision, and a major decision and a pin, however, is what enabled the Cobblers to get the cushion they needed.

“It makes for some big matches that maybe we didn’t win, but by only holding it to a major decision or holding it to whatever, it kind off kept us to where we could finish 10 points ahead,” Pearson said. “If we end up giving up a major or it ends up being a pin fall, now that score is a heck of a lot closer.”

Kost got things going for the Cobblers when he pinned Taylor Coffied in 2 minutes, 19 seconds, followed by Kraye’s pin over Kody Cox in 3:14.

Trailing early, Smith got an escape, and took Tice McVay down on his back for a quick pin in the second period.

“I was a little dead there in the first period, I guess,” Smith said. “I gave up a takedown that I probably shouldn’t of, but I guess I made it work in the second.”

Smith said his escape was big for him to do what he wanted to do – get McVay in a fireman’s hold.

“I tried it a couple of times in the first, so I had to catch him when he was standing straight up,” he said. “I worked from there.”

As expected, Carpenter pinned Uriah LaRoche in 1:15 before Central’s Ty Olson closed the match with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Clayton Smith at 285.

Cael Larson opened the match for Central with a pin (2:39) over Steven Permann, but Sturgis battled back with consecutive falls — Kelton Olson over Jakob Cordero (:16 at 113) and Shae Olson over Brendan Thompson (3:33 at 120).

Central responded with two major decisions — Kadyn Kraye over Logan Lemmel (19-5 at 126) and TJ Morrison over Brett Konst (12-4 at 132).

Central made it 17-12 when Sean Mitchell defeated Sturgis seventh-grader Reece Jacobs 10-5 in a spirited match that was a little closer than the final score indicated.

The Scoopers then picked up three straight wins for their 22-17 lead when Wren Jacobs beat Brayden Burrus 9-5 at 145, Bailey Brengle gained a 13-5 major decision over Tanner Skaare at 152 and Jake Sailer downed Wyatt Jungclaus 9-3 at 160.

Abell said they knew where they were favored, and basically won five matches that they felt they would win. They were looking for some bonus points.

“It’s a dual and they know how to wrestle in a dual situation, just as good as we do,” he said. “I was proud of the team as far as stretching out decisions to majors to looking for techs and pins. We got caught up top in a couple of positions where we were hoping to keep it within a tech or a major and we got pinned.”

The second-year Sturgis coach said there were a lot of positives out of the match. He said they are taking it one step at a time in the right direction.

“We still don’t have the lineup that we want, and we will have some guys coming back over the break,” Abell said as the Scoopers return to action Dec. 29-30 at the Floyd Farrand Invite at Sioux Falls Lincoln. “We’re just looking to get a little more effort, and that is what I told the kids tonight, and I saw it. I liked our performance on top and the kids are moving better on bottom.

Pearson said they have a tough schedule this year and they are trying to put together as many matches as they can with their youth and with our inexperience on the varsity.

A prime example is next weekend when they compete in The Clash, a duals tournament in Rochester, Minn. Central was a late invite when another team dropped out.

“We know it will be some major uphill battles, and what we’re trying to do is by that second day when you end up in the brackets against teams in your caliber, we’re really hoping that is where we can do some things as a team,” he said. “For our better kids, it will be a great place to showcase their talent.”