Effingham Daily News
Effingham senior Caitlin Kaufman is usually known for her offense, regarded as one of the area’s best shooters.
Kaufman earned the praise of coach Jeff Schafer Monday night on the other end of the court, as Kaufman stepped up and defended Neoga center Jillian Deters in the second half.
The move paid off, as Deters had just two of her 12 points in the second half and Effingham hung on to take down Neoga 44-33.
“Caitlin, defensively, did a phenomenal job in the second half,” Schafer said. “We made the switch, (and) she played better offensively as well.”
The win bumped Effingham’s record to 19-0, and 1-0 at their 13th annual Round Robin tournament.
Neoga hung tough with the undefeated Lady Hearts all the way until the fourth quarter, when Effingham expanded its 32-28 lead to 41-28 in the quarter’s first four and a half minutes.
It proved to Neoga coach Kim Romack what she already knew about her team.
“I just told the girls in the locker room that we haven’t seen a team this year we can’t compete with,” she said. “We stood our ground, we were right there with them.”
It was an even matchup all the way through, as Neoga played Effingham even in the first two quarters, tied 6-6 and 18-18 after the first two quarter breaks.
Deters was the key with 10 points, making her way through tight defense and being a burden for the Lady Heart defense.
In the second half, the defense of Kaufman on Deters, along with stellar defense from Jantzen Michael and Felicia Totten at guard, slowed the Neoga offense.
“Jantzen and Felicia did a phenomenal job trying to take away their two guards, because they’re two really, really good guards,” Schafer said. “Our defense was just excellent.
That gave Effingham room to take control, as Josie Zerrusen had 15 points to lead all scorers. Stephenson and Kaufman each had eight, with Kaufman grabbing five in a 20-second span late in the fourth on a 3-pointer and a hard layup.
Deters had 12, while Madison Butler and Jaycie Roy scored six apiece for Neoga.
The loss drops the Indians’ record to 13-7 and 0-1 in the Round Robin.
“We knew coming in that this was a good ballteam,” Romack said. “We kind of ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, we didn’t have the manpower they did.”
Neoga faces Dieterich at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, getting a day off from action.
Effingham turns right back around and goes for 20-0 at 7:45 p.m. tonight, facing its crosstown rival St. Anthony in each team’s second game.
“It’ll be a test, we’re playing like we are right now and everyone wants to be the one to beat you,” Schafer said. “It’s always a great rivalry and I know they’re going to come at us.”
Neoga 6 12 10 5 33
Effingham 6 12 14 12 44
Neoga: Butler 6, Ott 4, Thies 5, Deters 12, Roy 6
Effingham: Michael 7, Totten 1, Stephenson 8, Kaufman 8, Robb 5, Zerrusen 15