Effingham Daily News
Nancy Stiff said the performance was huge.
Arcola's Taylor Edwards was definitively the best player on the floor for at least six minutes, scoring the Riders' first 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Edwards brought Arcola's one-point lead, at the beginning of the quarter, to an eight-point lead before a different teammate scored in the Riders' 47-35 sectional victory against North Clay.
“I consider her the Tyra Buss (of Mount Carmel) of 1A basketball,” North Clay head coach Curtis Thompson said. “She's just an unstoppable player.”
Samantha Reece made a layup with 1:32 to play that gave Arcola its biggest lead of the game, 45-35, before Bekah Montgomery scored the last two points of the game.
Stiff, Arcola's head coach, said Edwards lifted an struggling offense in the fourth quarter, but the junior got started after halftime.
Edwards and Montgomery combined for Arcola's first 10 points of the second half to lead the Riders to a 32-31 advantage going into the final quarter.
Montgomery's eight points was second on the team after Edwards' game-high 26.
North Clay lost its halftime lead three possessions into the third quarter, after controlling much of the first half and taking a 21-19 lead into the locker room.
Kortney Stanfield scored eight of her 12 points in the first quarter to give the Cardinals an early seven-point lead. The deficit forced Arcola into a change.
The Riders changed from their normally effective 1-3-1 zone into a man-to-man set for the rest of the game.
“We weren't rebounding in (the zone) and we weren't covering (Stanfield) well,” Stiff said. “We got out of our zone and went to the man-to-man, which proved to be the better defense of the night.”
Arcola's quickness alone caused North Clay immediate trouble on the offensive end, while Stanfield was limited to four points in the last three quarters of the game.
Thompson said the Riders' defense forced the Cardinals into turnovers. He said his players didn't see many open shots the rest of the night.
North Clay finished the third quarter on a 4-0 run to bring Arcola's lead within one point and give itself a chance, but Edwards quickly stole the Cardinals' hope.
Teehanna Wyatt went 1-for-4 from the free throw line for the Cardinals, during Edwards' breakout start to the fourth quarter.
Arcola slowed the game down with a nine-point lead, created by Edwards, which forced the Cardinals into a situation they didn't want to be in.
“We knew whenever they pulled up that they started to slow the ball down, spread us out and they were going to run the clock on us,” Thompson said. “We had to go man on them and we knew that would be tough.”
Arcola outscored North Clay 28-14 in the second half to end the Cardinals' season and advance to today's Cumberland Sectional championship against Central A&M.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arcola 9 10 13 15 47
North Clay 16 5 10 4 35
Arcola: Karmazinas 2, Reece 4, Fishel 6, Montgomery 8, Conlin 1, Edwards 26
North Clay: Ruholl 2, Walker 10, K. Stanfield 12, Wyatt 11