Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 18, 2013

Defense lifts St. Anthony to 34-25 win over Neoga

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — After falling to 0-2 through the first two nights of the Effingham Invitational Tournament, coach Bart Wiedman turned to his Bulldog defense to lift the squad to victory.  

The Bulldogs had been solid in their initial two losses, but he wanted his team to really push the envelope against Neoga in game three. His team didn't disappoint, swarming the Indians for 32 minutes and capturing a much-needed 34-25 win.

"I thought we played great on the defensive end of the floor," Wiedman said. "We played great help defense from the start."

For fans of high-scoring offenses, this game had exactly none of it.  The teams would score a combined eight points in the first quarter, and Neoga was held to just two. 

Baskets from Kate Richards and Makayla Walsh helped break a nearly five-minute scoreless streak from either team, and gave St. Anthony their 6-2 lead after one.

"It's a defensive battle every time you play these guys," Neoga coach Kim Romack said. "You know it's going to be hard to score."

The second quarter featured much of the same problem for the Indians, as it appeared someone had put a  solid lid over their basket. 

On the other side of the bench, however, Wiedman's squad enjoyed their best offensive output of the night, scoring 14 points in the second frame to build a 20-8 halftime advantage.

"I thought we had a lot of good offensive rebounds at key times," Wiedman said, "and that's always going to help us be successful."

No point was more key than the final stretch of the second quarter, when the Bulldogs would break off a 10-0 run to give themselves some breathing room at the break. 

Kate Richards scored four points during the streak, and Megan Nuxoll and Melissa Bushur delivered baskets off of offensive rebounds as well.  A final two-point jumper from Lexie Niebrugge would put the score at 20-8 through two quarters of play. 

The team's scored just six total points in the third quarter to make it 22-12, and it appeared that each coach was well aware of any halftime adjustments the other may have up their sleeve.

"When you play a team multiple times," Romack said, "you know each other really well. We knew what they were going to do and they knew the same for us."

The teams would play virtually even basketball in the fourth,  allowing St. Anthony to pick up a decisive game against a team they had just seen one week prior. 

Unlike that effort, when Indians' freshman E.C. Thies erupted for 16 points in a 44-40 Bulldog win, the St. Anthony defense was well prepared. 

Thies was held to just five points before leaving in the fourth quarter due to sickness.  The Bulldog defense was on her from the start, holding Thies off from the scoresheet until the first possession of the fourth quarter.

"The effort we gave on the (Thies) girl was outstanding," Wiedman said. "She's had a phenomenal tournament and we looked solid against her."

Richards led all scorers with 11 points for St. Anthony, and Nuxoll was superb on the glass with fifteen rebounds to go with seven points.Neoga's Jillian Deters had a solid day for the Indians, scoring ten points and hauling in four rebounds on the night.With the win, St. Anthony improves to 12-9 on the season and will look to finish their Effingham Invitational at .500 with a win over Dieterich tomorrow.Neoga, who fell to 6-15 with the loss, has the late match-up tomorrow night and will look to pick-up their first win of the tournament against Centralia at 7:45 p.m.Neoga 2 6 4 13 - 25St. Anthony 6 14 2 12 - 34Neoga- J. Deters 10, Butler 8, Thies 5, K. Deters 2.St. Anthony- Richards 11, Nuxoll 7, Walsh 7, Bushur 4, Niebrugge 3, Gardewine 2.