Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 23, 2014

Lady Hearts clinch Round Robin title

Alex McNamee
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Jeff Schafer will take a win and a learning experience any day.

Effingham’s head coach watched his team make four straight poor decisions with two minutes left in the game against Centralia on Tuesday.

First, a low-post shot by Josie Zerrusen in the middle of a double team. Then, a quick 3-point shot by Jantzen Michael. Third, a deep pass on an out-of-bounds play. Finally, a pass up the floor and into the middle of Centralia’s full-court press.

“Basically everybody but Felicia (Totten) made a stupid play,” Schafer said. “Five people out there and four of them made stupid plays in the last two minutes.”

But the two missed shots and two turnovers turned into only two points for Centralia, as the Hearts won, 44-32, and clinched the Effingham Round Robin tournament championship.

The Flaming Hearts improved to 21-0 this season and with this particular win came a lesson.

“The positive thing is we can go in the locker room right now and use that as a learning point without getting a loss,” Schafer said. “Usually you don’t get to talk about learning experiences when you win.”

Lauren Stephenson’s deep pass, one of the aforementioned four mistakes, was the only play Schafer said he was fine with because she wasn’t afraid to throw it.

Centralia stole the pass and Schafer said it should’ve been thrown to the other side of the court, for Zerrusen who had a better speed matchup.

Schafer said his restraint to call a timeout during the lull — he had four — meant he’s confident in his team; after all, the Hearts are undefeated.

“I thought about using them, but I have to trust (the team),” Schafer said.

The Hearts clung to a five-point lead at halftime, 27-22, but scored the first five points of the third quarter and extended the lead to 13 points by the fourth.

Zerrusen led the Hearts with 11 points, while Stephenson finished with 10. Caitlin Kaufman and Stephanie Robb added eight apiece.

Eight players scored for Centralia, but nobody had more than eight points. The Hearts held Abbey Holtkamp to eight points — her lowest scoring output of the tournament.

Schafer said his defense gave the Hearts an opportunity to put the game away and, although they didn’t, the rebounding effort was a big part of the win.

“When we did shoot the ball poorly, we did pound the boards,” Schafer said.

The Hearts play their final game of the tournament at 7:45 p.m. Thursday against Dieterich.

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

Effingham     16 11 10 7     44

Centralia     10 12 2 8     32

Effingham: Michael 3, Stephenson 10, Kaufman 8, Robb 8, Zerrusen 11, Field 4

Centralia: Smith 4, Schwartz 4, Cunningham 2, Hutton 2, Engelkins 4, Mays 4, Holtkamp 8, Starr 4