The pregame celebration revolved around recognizing Brownstown/St. Elmo’s seniors, but St. Anthony celebrated winning the National Trail Conference championship after the game.
The Bulldogs clinched the NTC title in their last game of the regular season, with a 49-26 win over the Bombers on Thursday.
The regular season was filled with players stepping up in place of Makayla Walsh and Lexie Niebrugge. Both players sat out the first half of the season with injuries.
St. Anthony head coach Bart Wiedman was proud of his team Thursday night for exceeding expectations.
“It makes it feel twice as good,” Wiedman said. “Five senior girls worked their tails off. Morgan (Gardewine) and Megan (Nuxoll) played great.”
Nuxoll led the Bulldogs to Friday’s win with a team-high 12 points. Maggie Mumm scored nine points, while Kate Richards added eight. Walsh had seven.
The Bulldogs built a 15-point lead in the first quarter and the Bombers never got closer than nine points.
St. Anthony took a 21-2 lead early in the second quarter, only to be outscored 14-4 down the stretch and hold on to a nine-point lead at halftime.
“We played in spurts,” Wiedman said. “We played well for about 13 minutes in that first half and in the last three minutes we threw the ball away a little bit.”
Wiedman’s team got right back after it in the second half. Mumm converted a three-point play before the end of the third quarter that brought the Bulldogs’ lead to 15 points.
One minute into the fourth quarter, St. Anthony regained a 19-point lead and extended it to 23 points the rest of the way.
“In the second half, we executed our plays to perfection,” Wiedman said. “That was the best thing about tonight. We ran our sets and got everything we wanted out of them.”
The Bulldog defense was swarming and forced the Bombers into bad shots. They only scored 10 points in the second half, including just three in the final quarter.
The Bombers were without senior forward Bethany Oberlink, who is injured, but Molly Hill led the team with 10 points. Bombers head coach Brian Pruett couldn’t be reached for comment after the game.
Wiedman said the Bulldogs were concerned about Audriana Pruett’s shooting ability and made it a focal point to keep the ball out of her hands.
“If she couldn’t get the ball to start the offense then we were in good shape,” Wiedman said. “We tried to deny that first pass so they couldn’t get into their offense.”
In light of winning the NTC championship, Wiedman was thinking ahead to next week’s regional play. He had the team’s season goals in mind.
St. Anthony plays Wednesday night at the Altamont Regional. The Bulldogs hold the top seed, and will face Dieterich or Ramsey at 6 p.m.
The Bulldogs (19-7, 6-0 NTC) are two wins away from 21 on the season, which would be a program record. Two more wins would also get them a regional championship.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Anthony 17 8 13 11 49
Brownstown/St. Elmo 2 14 7 3 26
St. Anthony: Gardewine 4, L. Niebrugge 1, Wendt 6, Mumm 9, Nuxoll 12, Richards 8, Walsh 7, H. Niebrugge 2
B/SE: Pruett 3, Austin 2, Fitch 8, Hill 10, Moore 1, Brown 2