Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 13, 2013

Hearts stay unbeaten with win over Mattoon

Alex McNamee
Effingham Daily News

MATTOON — Things were a little different for Effingham on Thursday, with assistant coach Aaron Witges calling the shots in Jeff Schafer’s absence, but the result was the same — a 47-24 win to stay undefeated.

Players and coaches urged Schafer to watch his daughter play in Thursday night’s IESA basketball class 7-4A third-place game, assuring him they would be all right without him against Mattoon.

The Hearts were fine, keeping the game as simple as Witges wanted them to. He couldn’t be happier with his team giving up 24 points.

“I knew we were going to simplify it a little bit,” Witges said. “24 points isn’t too bad.”

Effingham started the game with an 18-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and defense, as well as a steady offense, kept the Hearts lead.

Seniors Caitlin Kaufman and Stephanie Robb led the team, combining to go 10-of-12 from the floor. Kaufman scored a team-high 15 points, while Robb finished with 12.

“(Stephanie), Caitlin and Josie (Zerrusen), were kind of our calming pieces tonight, and they are a lot of times throughout the year,” Witges said.

Zerrusen finished with only two points, but made her presence known in other ways. She had a team-high seven assists and five rebounds.

Witges said the Hearts’ 18-7 start, which extended to a 15-point halftime lead, was critical to the team’s success in the game.

“Getting off to a hot start was huge,” he said. “It helped calm them down and helped calm me down.”

The defense was the story, though. The Hearts limited Mattoon’s ability to score in a variety of ways. The Green Wave scored eight of their 24 points from the free-throw line.

“We were able to get our hands on all kinds of balls and take them away,” Witges said. “We had a game plan and the girls executed it.”

Jantzen Michael and Lauren Stephenson scoreD six points apiece, while Britanny Beals, Felicia Totten, Marranda Steffen, and Zerrusen each scored two points.

The Hearts improve to 7-0 this season and 2-0 in Apollo Conference play. They will be back in action on Monday at Mt. Zion.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.

Effingham     18 10 9 10     47

Mattoon     7 6 6 5          24

Effingham: Michael 6, Beals 2, Totten 2, Stephenson 6, Kaufman 15, Robb 12, Zerrusen 2, Steffen 2

Mattoon: Cox 4, Jackson 8, Fisher 2, Bath 3, Raboin 3, Thompson 4