Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


December 20, 2013

Lady Hearts on fire

Effingham wins ninth straight to open season

EFFINGHAM — Starting fast is a priority for the Effingham Lady Hearts this season.

They've done it with aplomb early on, and it showed again Thursday during their 59-19 win over Paris.

Effingham scored the first 18 points of the game against the overmatched Lady Tigers, in what would turn into a rout for the Hearts' ninth straight win to open the season.

While it's always been a key point of head coach Jeff Schafer's, the roster he has this season has shown little trouble getting going out of the gates.

"We've started a lot of different people, based on who we're playing, to match up better defensively," Schafer said. "It's worked so far.

That's the nice thing about having such good depth, being able to play nine or 10 kids and have them do their roles."

This time, it was Caitlin Kaufman leading the charge for Effingham. She tallied the Hearts' first seven points in the game's opening two minutes, and would total 11 of the first 18 by the 2:29 mark as Effingham led 18-0.

Paris' Libby Lawson broke the scoring streak with a jumper with 2:16 left, but Josie Zerrusen poured in seven quick points to make it a 25-4 game after one quarter.

The second quarter brought about more of the same, as Effingham continued its blitz of Paris. This time, it was Jantzen Michael and Kaufman providing the offense, and Effingham grabbed a 42-10 lead at the half.

Schafer was quick to point out the play of his point guard Michael, who also tallied eight assists on the night.

"Jantzen's getting better all the time at running the point," he said. "She's a gamer, she shows up for the big games."

From there, the Hearts kept at it and worked on specific parts of their game, like running high-low offense and offensive sets based around a box-and-one defense Paris had been showing.

But it was the defense that shined early and often, as Effingham swarmed Paris ballhandlers and forced them into bad shots time and time again.

Kaufman led all scorers with 18, nearly outscoring Paris by herself, while Michael added 15 and Zerrusen had 12 points.

The Hearts are now 4-0 in Apollo play, and have won 31 of their past 32 games dating back to last season.

It's been the start Schafer wanted coming out of last year's 26-4 season.

"So far, so good, because I think we have been improving every game," he said. "They're not satisfied."

Effingham is off until Thursday, when they open the Charleston Holiday Tournament with a familiar foe -- the same Paris team they crushed Thursday.

Paris     4     6     2     7     19

Effingham     25     17     10     7     59

Paris: Lau 2, Keller 6, Lawson 4, Bradford 2, Switzer 1, Volkmann 4

Effingham: Michael 15, Stephenson 3, Kaufman 18, Robb 2, Zerrusen 12, Steffen 6, Nunamaker 2, Field 1


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