---- — Brownstown/St. Elmo’s girls basketball team experienced some turbulence last season, but with a roster void of seniors, the bumps and bruises were to be expected. This year, however, the Bombers are set to return five to-be seniors and two rising juniors.
In order to prepare for a demanding National Trail Conference schedule this winter, the more-experienced Bombers have tackled a tough summer schedule, including this week’s Effingham Shootout.
“We’re just looking to build a bond between all the girls,” Brownstown/St. Elmo coach Brian Pruett said. “You’re only as good as your 10th, 11th girl. We’re trying to build everyone up and get them ready for the season.”
Friday’s contest against Class 3A foe Centralia offered a rigid test, but the Bombers hung tough with the Annies for the better part of the opening half. Rising senior Courtney Howard’s 3-pointer from the right wing cut the Centralia lead to 14-12 with just over five minutes remaining.
“This is our third tournament we’ve played in,” Pruett said. “The girls have really improved and are starting to trust each other.”
The Annies closed the half on an 8-0 run to carry a 22-12 lead into halftime, but once again, the game-hardened Bombers responded.
Molly Hill, another senior, hit her second three of the game minutes into the second half to close the deficit to eight at 24-16. Against a larger Centralia team, the Bombers were hanging tough.
“It’s nice to see the girls working together,” Pruett said. “We still don’t even have the whole team together yet. I’m happy to see the great strides the girls have made.”
The Annies’ low-post power eventually won out, pulling away late for a 39-22 win. Yet the 17-point final margin was not an adequate indicator for the competitiveness of the game.
“It’s nice having all these girls back this year,” Pruett said. “Seniors, juniors and sophomores are getting to where we want them.”
Pruett said the team could still use some help on rebounding, which was where the Orphans were able to inflict the most damage.
“We’re not really big,” he said. “Our biggest need right now is rebounding.”
Howard scored a team-high eight points for Brownstown/St. Elmo, with Hill finishing close behind at seven.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com