For the Daily News
St. Anthony gave Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City everything it could handle last month before falling to the state-ranked Lady Hornets, 36-31, in the championship game of the National Trail Conference Tournament.
It was a different story on Thursday at the Enlow Center, however. And the differences were about as subtle as a Micah Jones spin move in the low post.
The Lady Hornets (5-2) dominated on every level this time around, hitting eight of their first nine shots from the floor and never looking back in a 60-32 rout.
CHBC was fueled by a vintage game by senior Micah Jones (19 points, 21 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks) and a career night by up-and-comer Autumn Riley (20 points, four rebounds).
"This time we came out, I think, a little bit more ready to play ball," CHBC coach Carolyn Wendte said. "We just came off the loss to T-Town (on Tuesday), and that's how I challenged them tonight, ÔYou had your loss, we can handle a loss, but you learn from your loss and come out fired up and ready to play. I think they did a very good job today."
After going just 3-for-16 from the floor in CHBC's first meeting with the Bulldogs (4-4), Jones set the tone with an electric first-quarter display.
Jones immediately drew double and triple teams in the post, and unselfishly dished to Kacie Hilt and Ava Paruleski for the Lady Hornets' first two baskets.
Jones then converted on the first of her three first-quarter three-point plays.
CHBC finished 8 for 11 from the field in the first quarter, recording assists on six of those field goals for a 19-7 lead. Jones was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from the line in the quarter, playing the role of distributor to boot.
"Micah is a phenemonal, she's a great player," Wiedman said. "Not only scoring, but reading double teams and hitting people for open shots. It's hard to handle and kinda took the wind out of sails in the first quarter."
Jones made 7 of 8 shots and was essentially a point forward.
"Micah did an excellent job," Wendte said. "What we've been working on in practice is, when Micah draws that double or triple team, we've got to cut on the weak side and we've got to find that open man. And our second option is to look up high, and we caught Ava up there a few times up high."
Paruleski finished in double figures for the second straight game, finishing with 11 points, and appears to be returning to full strength after struggling with a lingering illness early on.
"Ava's gradually getting back a little more on her feet," Wendte said. "Her shot's building and she's putting some points on the board for us."
But it was Riley who took game-high honors in the scoring column for CHBC, showing off a diverse array of mid-range and post moves. Riley finished 7-for-12from the field.
"Autumn Riley could be an awesome player for this team," Wendte said "This summer, Micah went down and I told Autumn, ÔThis is your time to shine. She never really had that option with older kids ahead of her. That kid doesn't even know what her potential in basketball is yet."
Jones capped her big night with a rare 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, as a Lady Hornets' team that has struggled mightily from long range hit four trifectas.
"That's what we've got to work on," Wendte said. "That's what made us good last year - we had the inside-out game."
It was a struggle all the way around for the Bulldogs, who were just 15 of 45 from the field, including a seven-minute drought without a field goal in the first quarter. St. Anthony also made just 1 of 7 free throws, but Wiedman was most concerned about his team's defense, which was a strength the first time the Bulldogs played CHBC.
"Defensively, we have been good, but today our defense just wasn't good," Wiedman said. "This is the first time, I can honestly say, since the first game of the year that we weren't ready to play. We weren't mentally in it."
Megan Nuxoll led St. Anthony with 10 points and four rebounds, while Katie Richards had nine points. But it was a game to forget for St. Anthony.
"We were five individuals playing out there tonight," Wiedman said. "We weren't a team. But we're still young and we're playing a team with a lot of experience and an all-stater."
CHBC will host state-ranked Pana tonight. St. Anthony will host T-Town on Monday.
CHBC 60, St. Anthony 33
CHBC 19 13 17 11 - 60
St. Anthony 7 8 9 8 - 32
CHBC - Ward 1-1 0-0 2, Jones 7-8 4-5 19, Miller 0-1 2-2 2, Edwards 1-4 0-0 2, Riley 7-12 6-10 20, Paruleski 4-9 0-0 11, Hilt 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 22-38 12-17 60.
St. Anthony - Gardewine 1-4 1-4 3, Bushur 2-6 0-0 4, Mumm 1-4 0-2 2, Nuxoll 5-8 0-2 10, Richards 4-8 0-0 9, Walsh 1-11 0-0 2, Dust 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 15-45 1-7 32.
3-point goals - CHBC 4 (Paruleski 3, Jones), St. Anthony 1 (Richards). Rebounds - CHBC 33 (Jones 21, Ward 4, Riley 4), St. Anthony 17 (Nuxoll 4, Richards 3, Bushur 3). Turnovers - CHBC 15, St. Anthony 11. JV Score -ÊCHBC 40, St. Anthony 36.