Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

March 29, 2014

Shoe-in: Teutopolis' Hartke named Effingham Daily News Player of the Year

TEUTOPOLIS — Madeline Hartke’s value is difficult to measure in a scorebook.

Sure, the Teutopolis senior led the Lady Shoes in scoring and rebounding, field goal and free throw percentage, but Hartke lifted the IHSA Class 2A third-place trophy in March because of the things that can’t be charted on a graph.

Hartke, an Associated Press first team All-State selection in Class 2A, scored a career-high 34 points on Dec. 28 against Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, but in an eight-point loss.

She’s capable of scoring way more than 12.1 points per game, but she isn’t that kind of player and that isn’t what the Shoes often needed the Effingham Daily News Area Player of the Year to do, on their way to 29 wins.

“She’s definitely a team player,” Teutopolis head coach Laurie Thompson said. “That’s kind of how it has been from day one.”

Hartke finished the season with 56 assists, an increase from her junior year, and averaged two fewer points per game, but the Shoes still made their first state appearance since 2008.

The senior missed three games at the end of the season, including the postseason opener, but made herself useful during practices.

“Running the clock,” Hartke joked.

See, Hartke is more than a scorer or rebounder. She’s the medicine and energy the team needs in tight situations and tense moments.

That extends to her Central Illinois Storm AAU team, too.

“She’s definitely one of the hardest workers I’ve ever played with,” Storm teammate Randa Harshbarger said. “Even in practice, she gives 110 percent.”

The effort showed on the court in the biggest moments, at the end of a game Hartke really wanted to win against undefeated Effingham.

*  *  *  *

Josie Zerrusen only knew Hartke as a basketball player and that much she didn’t like.

But the Effingham star saw her Teutopolis rival in a different light this summer, when Hartke joined the Storm, Zerrusen’s AAU team.

“We can agree that we didn’t like each other before that,” Zerrusen said. “It was different than just thinking of her as Madeline Hartke at T-Town. It was weird.”

Hartke always knew the Storm was a successful AAU program, but it wasn’t until coach Barry Wolfe talked her into joining last summer that she jumped ship.

Her first practice was many of her teammates’ first time seeing her play outside of a game, but for some, like Harshbarger, it was nice to see a new face.

“It was cool to meet someone with the same mentality that I had,” Harshbarger said. “She was an all-around person.”

But the summer was short and Hartke was on the fast track to meet some of those new teammates on a more hostile floor.

Zerrusen’s Flaming Hearts entered their Jan. 31 showdown against the Shoes with a 24-0 record and a win over an identical Teutopolis team under their belt, from the year before.

The Hearts hadn’t lost a regular season game since Dec. 1, 2012, a span during which Zerrusen and Hartke became friends and teammates.

The pair guarded each other for all 32 minutes of the game, setting up a climactic finish with 37 seconds left and Effingham down three points.

“The crowd was crazy,” Zerrusen said. “I don’t think I’ve ever played for that many fans.”

Playing with her during the summer, Hartke recognized how “awesome” Zerrusen’s 3-point shot was, so in a three-point game, the Shoes’ senior knew what to defend.

Hartke blocked Zerrusen’s 3-pointer with 25 seconds left, then another with eight seconds remaining. Zerrusen, who made four 3-pointers in the game, couldn’t get a shot off and the Hearts’ perfect season was over.

After the game, Zerrusen saw Hartke avoiding her — probably, she assumes, because Hartke didn’t know how her Storm teammate would react.

“She didn’t know what I was going to say,” Zerrusen said. “I told her I didn’t hate her, but I didn’t exactly like her at that moment.”

The win on the last night of January built momentum for the Shoes, who were readying for a deep postseason run.

Three weeks later, another undefeated team stood in their way.

*  *  *  *

Hartke was Breese Central’s main concern, even though the Cougars shut her down in their Jan. 11 win against Teutopolis.

At five-foot-nine, Hartke handled and shot the ball like a guard, but posted up like a center.

She was a mismatch for any team, even a 31-0 squad that beat the Shoes by 16 points earlier in the season.

“That was something we definitely always looked at,” Thompson said. “It made a little bit of a nightmare for the opposing team because they had to figure out how their post was going to guard her. It was kind of fun seeing her pick apart her defender.”

The Shoes’ rematch with the Cougars at the Salem Super-Sectional was as good a time as any to exploit the advantage they had with Hartke.

Until then, Hartke and her teammates hadn’t put together the right ingredients to win the one game that would get them to the state's final four.

“Breese Central was a hump we had to overcome,” Hartke said. “That was really big.”

Cougars head coach Nathan Rueter had to decide how he wanted to guard Hartke, knowing his three options weren’t perfect.

Kendra Wilken was the ideal candidate because she could match Hartke’s strength in the post; however, she couldn’t match the senior’s explosiveness in space.

Thompson made it tougher by playing a bigger lineup, Rueter said, featuring Hartke and fellow forwards Haley Giles and Anna Hartke.

Rueter looked to Torre Kohrmann, who was the team’s shutdown defender all season.

“Torre had such a size and strength disadvantage that we were hesitant to do that,” Rueter said. “We had to put Torre on Hartke because she wasn’t going to be able to guard the other Hartke or Giles.”

Kohrmann held her own for a while, but couldn’t slow Hartke in the post. Maddie Timmermann, the option that mirrored Hartke’s size and athleticism, didn’t have the lateral quickness to keep Hartke in front of her.

Rueter only had losing options.

“We didn’t have anybody that I thought could go out and consistently stop her,” Rueter said. “She single-handedly tore us apart that night.”

Hartke scored a team-high 20 points for the second consecutive game, earning the Shoes a spot in the Class 2A final four in Normal later that week.

She didn’t know it yet, but the super-sectional was the last game she scored in double figures.

“(The win) was kind of unreal, at first,” Hartke said. “I didn’t know what to think about that. It didn’t register that we were going to state.”

*  *  *  *

Teutopolis’ storied basketball history made Harshbarger more nervous than anything else, leading up to her school’s semifinal game against the Shoes.

She heard about it from everyone, her mom included.

But she knew what Hartke, her AAU teammate, was capable of doing on the court. She’d seen it, but that wasn’t necessarily an advantage.

“It may help some people, but it threw me off,” Harshbarger said. “It’s more of a mind game.”

Champaign St. Thomas More needed to find a way to do what Breese Central couldn’t — shut down Hartke.

The Sabers deflated the Shoes’ bid at a championship, limiting Hartke to two points on 1-of-5 shooting and six turnovers in a 20-point win.

Hartke fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter and St. Thomas More won the state championship the next night.

“I could kind of tell that everybody’s hope was getting smaller,” Hartke said. “I was just mad at myself — so very mad.”

But the senior, who suffered a number of tough defeats in her career, showed up to play the next night and led the Shoes to a 32-28 win against Elmhurst IC Catholic for third place in the state.

She scored seven points and grabbed nine rebounds in the comeback victory.

Next year, Hartke will have a different role, playing her freshman season at Maryville University, but she will see some familiar faces.

Harshbarger and Storm teammate Kaydie Grooms, of Marshall, are committed to play at Southern Indiana, a Great Lakes Valley Conference rival of Maryville.

“It was cool to play against (Hartke) in high school,” Harshbarger said. “Next year, she’s in my conference. That’ll be cool.”

Hartke helped the Shoes to 101 wins in four seasons and a Class 2A third-place trophy. She’s one of only 14 players to score more than 1,000 points in her Teutopolis career and added a second team All-State nod from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association this season.

There just isn’t a number value for that.

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

 

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