Tension builds in close games.
St. Anthony led Neoga by three points with 37 seconds to play on Thursday, when Lauren Wendt was called for a five-second violation.
Neoga got the ball under their own basket and gave it to Jillian Deters for a layup to make it 42-41. Kate Richards made 1-of-2 free throws on St. Anthony ensuing possession.
The game couldn’t have been tighter with the Indians dribbling down the court, trailing by two points.
Neoga head coach Kim Romack said they got a look they wanted with freshman Jaycie Roy under the basket, standing no more than two feet from the hoop.
Roy, who scored 10 points, hesitated and passed the ball to Madison Butler, who was off target on a jumper from inside the free throw line.
“It wasn’t that we told (Roy) she couldn’t shoot,” Romack said. “I don’t know if she didn’t see it or didn’t want to take it in that situation.”
Wendt put her teammates at ease, grabbing the rebound, making two free throws and St. Anthony went home with a 45-41 win.
“We got looks, the looks we wanted to get,” Romack said. “Some of them we didn’t take. Some we did and they didn’t fall.”
The five-second call with 37 seconds left was the second Neoga forced in the quarter. Tight defense against Kate Richards forced her to hold onto the ball for too long with 1:29 remaining.
Neoga got the ball back, but couldn’t convert; instead, Makayla Walsh scored her last two points of the game to push the Bulldogs’ lead to three points.
Walsh made a splash in her fourth game back from a torn ACL injury that kept her out the first half of the season. She scored a season-high 11 points, playing every minute of the final quarter.
St. Anthony scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to win by four and Walsh helped bring the Bulldogs back with two 3-pointers, after Neoga took a 35-28 lead on a Roy layup.
Her second 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs a 36-35 lead with 4:19 to go.
She didn’t score again until two late free throws, nor did she allow Neoga high scorer EC Thies to score either.
“I pretty much face-guarded her the whole time,” Walsh said. “My knees feel a little weak right now, but I’m good to go.”
Neoga trailed by three points for most of the final four minutes of the game, which made Walsh’s defense even more key against Thies, a 3-point threat.
Romack said the Indians tried setting screens to get Thies open for shots, but Walsh was too quick.
Thies finished with 13 points in the loss and put a target on her back after opening up the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from at least one foot behind the line.
The win puts St. Anthony (13-4, 4-0) in the NTC driver’s seat with only two conference games remaining.
“We dug down deep,” St. Anthony head coach Bart Wiedman said. “We didn’t gamble. We just played smart, fundamental defense.”
The Bulldogs play Centralia in the Effingham Girls Basketball Tournament on Monday. Neoga (12-6, 1-1) hits the road tomorrow to play South Central.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, email@example.com.
St. Anthony 6 16 3 20 45
Neoga 7 10 10 14 41
St. Anthony: Wendt 7, Nuxoll 8, Brown 2, Richards 14, Walsh 11, Niebrugge 3
Neoga: Butler 4, Thies 12, Erickson 2, Roy 10
Tension builds in close games.
Zerrusen reflects on 1K milestone, career
Josie Zerrusen used to be a handful for her Effingham coaches, but turned into a headache for opponents by the end her senior season.
Zerrusen, the only one of four Hearts seniors to reach 1,000 points in her career this season, was preoccupied with scoring points as a sophomore on a 20-10 team in 2012.
But the Hearts improved as Zerrusen matured, recording 54 wins in the last two seasons, including a school-record 28 this season and a regional championship. Zerrusen grew up by changing her attitude and refusing to take summers off.
All-NTC showdown set at sectionals
At least one area team will play Monday at Southern Illinois University for Super-Sectionals. Teutopolis is looking to make it two.
Tonight will mark the end of the road for either St. Anthony (22-10) or Dieterich (22-8), as the NTC rivals clash for the Class 1A Red Hill Sectional championship. A win would be Dieterich’s first-ever sectional crown, and it would be the first for St. Anthony since 2001.
Teutopolis (20-9) is looking to advance to the Super-Sectional round for the fourth-straight season and is playing for a sectional title for the fifth-straight year. The Wooden Shoes take on Greenville for the Class 2A Vandalia Sectional title.
Olney ends Effingham's season
Effingham battled offensive woes in waves this season and found ways to win almost 80 percent of the time, but not on Wednesday.
Olney, one of the Hearts' 20 victims this year, ended Effingham's season with a 35-32 win in the Salem Regional, surviving a poor shooting night as well.
Dieterich advances in convincing fashion
The Dieterich Movin' Maroons used a January loss to Patoka to motivate themselves Wednesday night at the Class 1A Red Hill Sectional.
It was more successful than they ever could have hoped for, as Dieterich stomped the Patoka Warriors 61-39 and advanced to Friday's sectional final against St. Anthony.
St. Anthony edges Oblong 72-69
BRIDGEPORT — A rare miss by Oblong’s Koert Mehler made the most noise.
Mehler heaved a 75-foot, full-court shot that barely rimmed out to send the game to overtime; instead, St. Anthony (22-10) survived 72-69 to advance to Friday’s Class 1A Red Hill Sectional championship.
Mette leads Wooden Shoes past Breese Central
Breese Central simply has to be getting sick of the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes.
Teutopolis moved to 4-1 in its last five games against Breese Central, and knocked out the Cougars at sectionals for the second straight year with a 63-40 win Tuesday night at the Class 2A Vandalia Sectional. If that wasn’t enough, the Lady Shoes ended Breese Central’s season in girls basketball last week as well.
Neoga's Romack heading to Lincoln Land
Neoga coach Ted Kerner praised his ace pitcher Tyler Romack's ability to read players and quickly learn their tendencies on the mound.
St. Anthony's Walsh commits to be a Cobra
Makayla Walsh made it official Friday afternoon, as the St. Anthony Bulldogs' shortstop signed to play softball at Parkland College next season.
Bulldogs, Shoes, Maroons set for Sectionals
St. Anthony knows what it’s like to play in close games and it’s paying off for the Bulldogs as they ride the momentum of a regional championship into today’s sectional game against Oblong.
Teutopolis takes third
Teutopolis was 1-2 this season when scoring 32 points or fewer heading into Saturday’s Class 2A third-place game.
But the Shoes were in a race to 30, staring at a 22-22 tie with four minutes left against Elmhurst Immaculate Conception Catholic, and were the first to get there.
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