Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


December 20, 2013

Altamont advances to SEHT finals

ST. ELMO — There was a moment during Thursday's Altamont game, in the second quarter, when the Indians only led Okaw Valley by four points.

Then, they won by 40.

The Indians led 24-20 midway through the second quarter, but scored the last nine points of the half. The late-quarter run was a shade of the second half run the Indians made, winning 76-36 to make a statement going into Saturday's St. Elmo Holiday Tournament championship game to play the winner of Friday's St. Elmo/Brownstown vs. Beecher City game.

Altamont finished second in each of the last two years' tournaments. Last year, the second-place finish in the tournament was one of three that the Indians had.

“We're kind of sick of that second-place trophy,” Altamont head coach John Niebrugge said.

After the midpoint of the second quarter, when Altamont led 24-20, the Indians outscored Okaw Valley 52-16 en route to the win.

The explanation was simple for Niebrugge — chalk it up to stamina.

“Our conditioning program is one of the top in the state,” Niebrugge said. “They know for us to play this way, this style, that's what we have to do. It took hold in the middle of the second quarter and continues from there.”

Niebrugge's blueprint for the win was the same as it always has been, he said. The post players got the fast-paced offense going with good outlet passes and Garrett Ziegler led the Indians with 23 points.

“We're not going to change,” Niebrugge said. “We play our style. Sometimes I don't know why I even scout because we don't change anything. I do it just for my own peace of mind, I think.”

Klaiton Wolff finished with 15 points for the Indians. Griffin Jackman scored 10.

Okaw Valley will play in the third-place game against the loser of Friday's St. Elmo/Brownstown vs. Beecher City game. Altamont will play the winner.

Cowden-Herrick vs. South Central

Cowden-Herrick head coach Marc Bain had the right recipe to beat South Central on Thursday. The Hornets played a tight zone, protecting their deficiency and exposing the Cougars' weakness.

Bain said he recognized how smart Okaw Valley's strategy was against South Central on Tuesday, when South Central lost 60-40. The Timberwolves made South Central shoot over the top of the defense.

Cowden-Herrick repeated the game plan on Thursday, beating South Central 59-48. The strategy, for the most part, masked the Hornets' lack of rebounding ability.

“Okaw Valley made (South Central) beat them from the outside and we tried to do that, too,” Bain said. “We're not very quick either, so man-to-man is difficult.”

It looked like the game plan worked perfectly as the Hornets led 47-35 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, but South Central made a run that put them within three points, 49-46, with 4:06 left.

Trevor Markley sank a 3-pointer, got a steal and passed the ball to Brett Harmeier for a layup, bringing the Cougars within three points before a Cowden-Herrick timeout.

“I told them, 'I can lose my composure,' but I didn't want them to lose theirs,” Bain said. “We got a few cuts and made some baskets at the end.”

Cowden-Herrick scored six of the next seven points out of the timeout, led by Colton Evans, who scored five points during the stretch run. He finished with 10 points.

Dylan Barnes led the Hornets with 17 points, while Konner Blackerby scored 15 and Colton Burrus finished with 11 to round out the four players who finished in double figures. Colton Sphar finished with six points, as the only other player to score for the team.

The zone messed up South Central's shot selection, as the Cougars scored in the flow of their offense during good stretches and settled for bad jumpers other times.

“We needed to find a way to get inside,” South Central head coach Rick Simmons said. “We got a little rattled by the fact that the score was spreading out on us and we put up some shots from people I really don't want putting up outside shots.”

When the Cougars got the game within three points, Simmons said he hoped his team could put Cowden-Herrick away; however, the Hornets didn't back down.

“Coming in as the eighth seed, (people) don't expect us to win any games, so we're pretty excited,” Bain said. “I'm super proud of (my players) tonight for not losing composure.”

Cowden-Herrick advances to the consolation championship game of the St. Elmo Holiday Tournament, where they'll play the winner of Ramsey vs. Mulberry Grove. South Central will play the loser of the game.

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

Altamont     18 15 16 27     76

Okaw Valley     7 13 7 9          36

Altamont: Jackman 10, McGinnis 8, Ziegler 23, Borders 3, Goeckner 5, Armstrong 4, Seidel 4, Jahraus 4, Wolff 15

Cowden-Herrick     21 8 11 19     59

South Central          13 9 11 15     48

Cowden-Herrick: Barnes 17, Blackerby 15, Burrus 11, Evans 10, Sphar 6

South Central: Harmeier 17, Markley 9, Langley 8, Ross 7, Henken 2, Wilkins 2, Powless 2, Riley 1


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