Effingham Daily News
No matter who won Thursday night, the winner of the Neoga regional championship would be taking home its first regional title.
Ultimately, it would be the DIeterich Lady Maroons who would take home the crown, as they downed their NTC rival St. Anthony 42-26.
It was the third matchups between the teams this season, with the previous two matchups being decided by a total of three points.
Dieterich was the one to improve on those matchups, playing a stout 2-3 zone all night.
"We knew the key players," said Dieterich coach Donetta Ohnesorge. "We tried to really perfect our zone defense. We were scared of going to the 2-3 because of their outside forces.
"I really am proud of the girls, they stepped up and did what they needed to do. "
St. Anthony was prepared for the zone, but could not attack it in the way they wanted to, said coach Bart Wiedman.
"We wanted to attack Candace (Niemerg), we wanted her to come out to us, jump stop and hit the cutter," he said.
The Lady Maroons led from wire-to-wire, taking control in the first quarter behind NiemergÕs six points. They headed into the second up 12-7.
The defensive prowess continued, as St. Anthony only scored two points in the first seven minutes of the quarter on a Makayla Walsh layup.
Meanwhile, Dieterich senior Katilyn Meinhart came off the bench and drilled three huge three pointers, bringing the lead out to 23-9 with 4:41 left.
MeinhartÕs performance was a part of what Dieterich did well all night - knocking down shots when Niemerg was covered.
"Meinhart came in and gave us good offense when we needed it. Offensively, we stepped it up. The offense just came for us tonight.
A Morgan Gardewine three ended the Bulldog drought, and the Maroons led 24-12 going into the fourth quarter.
A three by Sydney Higgs and buckets by Courtney Flach and Taylor Wright extended the Maroon lead to 31-14 with 5:38 left.
Over the next five minutes, St. Anthony showed signs of life, going on a 6-0 run behind baskets by Melissa Bushur, Megan Nuxoll and Walsh.
But a three-point play by Niemerg ended the quarter with Dieterich up 34-20.
St. Anthony was held scoreless for the first three-and-a-half minutes of the quarter, but cut the lead back to 12 on a quick 6-0 run by Walsh to make it 38-26.
They wouldnÕt score again.
Defense was an issue early for St. Anthony, one from which they never recovered.
"We didnÕt do the things that weÕre good at," Weidman said. "WeÕre a really good defensive team."
Walsh led the team with 12 points, while no other Bulldog had more than four points.
The Bulldogs finish the season 19-11, a marked improvement from 2012Õs 8-20 mark.
"WeÕre a bunch of juniors and sophomores," Wiedman said. :Hopefully, this summer, we work the kinks out and have our chance to get our regional title."
Niemerg had 16 points, had 17 rebounds, five blocks and hit 10 of 11 free throws. Meinhart also had 11 points of the bench.
As for Ohnesorge, the coach and the schoolÕs athletic director, it was a big moment to bring home the schoolÕs first regional girls basketball title.
"Numbers have been low in years past," she said. "I think these girls see the reality, this is something we can have happen. "
DIeterich (18-11) advances to the Altamont sectional next Monday night. It will be another emotional moment, as they play Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City at 8 p.m., coached by OhnesorgeÕs sister Carolyn Wendte.
Dieterich 42, St. Anthony 26
St. Anthony 7 5 6 6 - 26
Dieterich 12 12 10 8 - 42
St. Anthony - Gardewine 3, Niebrugge 2, Bushur 3, Nuxoll 2, Richards 4, Walsh 12
Dieterich - Flach 2, Higgs 5, Niemerg 16, Meinhart 11, Vahling 2, Wright 6