For the Daily News
Effingham rolled over both Charleston and Chicago Orr Friday, winning the Gold Pool at the Charleston Holiday Tournament against the latter and advancing to the title game with their win over the Trojans.
The Lady Hearts are now 13-0 to start the season after the 72-45 win over Charleston Friday night, and will face Taylorville at 1:30 p.m. today in the championship game. Effingham won last year's CHT by defeating Galesburg.
While the team is built around depth and sharing the load offensively and defensively, the Lady Hearts repeatdely turned to one player Friday night in the semifinals.
“I thought our kids did a great job of getting Caitlin Kaufman the ball,” said Effingham coach Jeff Schafer. “She had a fun day. Earlier we had eight or nine kids with at least five points or more. The girls contributed all day long.”
Charleston didn't hit its first field goal until there were 20 seconds left in the first quarter. The team finished 1-of-13 from the field. Effingham jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Charleston got on the board with a free throw, and the Lady Hearts turned that into a 25-9 first-quarter lead.
“We ran into an Effingham team that was on fire,” said Charleston coach Jeff Miller. “Coach Schafer admitted that was the best they shot the ball all season. When you have a punch of Kaufman and Zerrusen knocking down threes, they are tough to beat.”
Caitlin Kaufman was shooting target practice from outside, finishing the first quarter with 12 points, but it wasn't just her. The team finished the first half with six 3-point shots, finishing 10-of-19.
Kaufman finished with a tournament-high 29 points against the Lady Trojans.
“We took good shots all day,” said Schafer. “The kids were really moving the ball around. Our shot selection was great. If we weren't getting a three, we were getting a high low, or driving to the basket. This was one of our best games shooting the ball this year.”
Once Charleston began playing as a collaborative unit, the team was able to cut the lead down to 25-14, but Effingham ended the first half with a 39-22 lead.
Morgan Sherwood did all she could to keep the Lady Trojans in it with 10 points at the break, on her way to a 16-point game.
“Morgan had a solid day for us,” said Miller. “She is very deserving of all tournament team.”
Charleston played better in the second in terms of scoring, but the balanced scoring effort of Effingham was too much for the Lady Trojans to muster any sort of a comeback.
Along with Kaufman's 29 points, Josie Zerrusen contributed 18 points. Jantzen Michael had a solid day with 12 points and Lauren Stephenson had eight points off the bench.
“I thought our effort was better the second game,” said Miller. “We just played a very good basketball team that shot the ball lights out.”
With the win, Effingham will play future Apollo Conference rival Taylorville in the championship at 1:30.
“We are looking forward to the championship,” said Schafer. “Charleston is a scary team. We are going to have to play them probably two more times. They are young and they have a solid foundation for a bright future.”
The loss drops Charleston to 9-6 on the season. Charleston will play Decatur Eisenhower for third place at noon.
Effingham 74 Chicago Orr 31
In the earlier session, and final game of pool play, Effingham was too much for the small academy school from Chicago to handle.
The only tie of the game came at 3-3, but the Lady Hearts used a 9-0 run to pull away, and that was it.
The press caused problems for Orr to implement anything offensively. Their leading scorer came from Tatyana Young with seven points.
Effingham was able to do whatever they wanted offensively. They were able to get to the basket, but also hit shots from outside. The team finished 7-17 from outside the arc.
Chicago Orr also shot themselves in the foot with foul trouble and the Lady Hearts capitalized. Effingham made 26 of 34 free throw attempts.
Kaufman had a field day from outside with six 3-point shots as she scored 24 points. Despite a 74-point game, Kaufman was the only double-digit scorer of the game.
Effingham led 41-13 at halftime.
Effingham 25 14 15 18 72
Charleston 9 13 17 6 45
Effingham: Michael 12, Totten 4, Kaufman 29, Robb 3, Zerrusen 18, Stephenson 8, Field 4
Charleston: Crowder 8, Story 4, Miller 10 Sherwood 16, Rennels 2, O'Dell 5,
Chicago Orr 11 2 16 2 31
Effingham 24 17 25 8 74
Orr: Wright 2, Marshall 5, Mitchell 6, Wynn 2, Atkins 3, Booker 6, Young 7
Effingham: Michael 5, Beals 6, Totten 6, Stephenson 4, Kaufman 24, Robb 7, Zerrusen 6, Steffen 7, Nunamaker 1, Field 7