Effingham Daily News
Effingham scored just two points in the first 16 minutes against Teutopolis. But in the final minute of the game, they'd scratched and clawed their way back to a 28-25 deficit, behind Josie Zerrusen and Caitlin Kaufman.
With the game in the balance, the Lady Hearts turned to Zerrusen again and again. And Teutopolis' Madeline Hartke knew they would.
Zerrusen had two game-tying three attempts in the game's final 37 seconds, and Hartke was there to block both. Hartke blocked a Zerrusen three with about 25 seconds and blocked the second with about eight seconds to play.
While Teutopolis had trouble putting the game away due to massive struggles at the free-throw line, it was Hartke's defense that clinched a 29-25 win for the Shoes, ending Effingham's perfect season.
"Those blocks felt amazing," Hartke said with a smile. "We kind of let off on our defense, we didn't have our hands up as much in the first half. They were looking to shoot the threes, and at least we took care of it."
The win bumps Class 2A's fourth-ranked Lady Shoes to 20-4, while Effingham is now 24-1 and loses its first regular season game since Dec. 1, 2012.
It was a defensive battle all the way, with Effingham stumbling out of the blocks. Teutopolis led 4-0 after the first quarter, and would come up 11-0 before Effingham got its first basket of the game, a Lauren Stephenson layup with 2:22 left in the second quarter.
That 11-2 score would hold until halftime, but Teutopolis coach Laurie Thompson knew the Lady Hearts would come out swinging.
"I thought my first half defense was excellent against a very good offensive team," she said. "We have to be ready for Effingham to say, 'We ain't going to have any more part of this,' and come out and look to score."
Effingham coach Jeff Schafer said he told his team to just focus on the task at hand, and not to worry about the struggles in the first.
"Refocus and try to play the best 16 minutes you can in the second half, and I thought we did," he said. "They kept fighting, we played good enough defense in the first half to still be in the basketball game."
While they'd make it a game in the fourth, Effingham got an early basket but fell behind 15 points, down 21-6 with 2:53 to play. Zerrusen hit back-to-back threes to cut the lead to 21-12, and after a 23-12 deficit to end the third, Zerrusen and Kaufman opened the fourth with threes.
Down 23-18 with 5:17 to play, Effingham kept fighting, cutting it to four with 3:41. Jessica Schumacher stepped to the line up 25-19 with 2:06 for a one-and-one, missing the front end, but Hartke was there for the rebound and the putback to go up 27-19.
Jantzen Michael converted a three-point play after being fouled with 1:27, then Zerrusen hit a three with 43 seconds left to play to cut it to 28-25.
In the fourth, Teutopolis was 1-for-9 before Schumacher stepped to the line with 4.2 seconds. She missed the first, prompting Thompson to call a timeout.
"Normally, I don't call a timeout in the middle of a free throw, but I really thought Jess would relax," she said. "I said, 'I'm not telling you a thing. You know what we're doing. You get out there, smile, relax, it's a free throw drill and you don't want to run.'"
Schumacher converted, finally putting the game away.
Hartke topped Teutopolis with nine points, Cierra Thompson had six points, Schumacher and Anna Hartke each had five points, and Danielle Repking scored four.
Zerrusen had 14 points and Michael had four. It ends Effingham's impressive streak, which Schafer said was nothing to hang their heads about.
"(I told them) just how proud I am of them and don't look back," he said. "What you've accomplished over the last two years of this run, and it took a great basketball team like T-Town for it to come to an end.
"T-Town just played phenomenal. We said the first team to 30 might win, and that's exactly what happened."
Effingham gets back at it Monday night, traveling to Paris with a 24-1 record and 8-0 in the Apollo.
Teutopolis moves to 20-4 after losing to two previously unbeaten team, and for Hartke and her Lady Shoes, it's a signature win.
"It feels awesome, because last year, we played them and lost and they were still undefeated and we wanted to give them their first loss," she said. "This year, we did it, and I'm so happy right now."
Teutopolis 4 7 12 6 29
Effingham 0 2 10 13 25
Teutopolis: Schumacher 5, Repking 4, A. Hartke 5, Thompson 6, M. Hartke 9
Effingham: Michael 4, Stephenson 2, Kaufman 3, Robb 2, Zerrusen 14