Effingham Daily News
When Teutopolis head coach Laurie Thompson talks about her defense, it doesn’t sound as complex as one may think based on the team’s defensive prowess.
But through four years, her Lady Shoes were consistently the only team that was able to defuse the scoring threat known as Mt. Carmel’s Tyra Buss.
After ending Mt. Carmel’s season for the fourth straight year, Teutopolis is heading to its third Super-Sectional in four years, and it’s because of their defense.
Like all great things, it starts with the basics and fundamentals.
“We start with a shell drill (on defense),” Thompson said. “Once you get the basics down, who to cover, who to recover, we talk about who goes after who on the close out.”
While the Shoes throw in zone principles into some of their sets, like the box-and-one that shut down Buss repeatedly, even their zone concepts are built around the strength of Teutopolis’ man-to-man defense.
Thompson has talked about options against teams like Mt. Carmel and the Lady Shoes’ opponent tonight, the unbeaten Breese Central Lady Cougars (31-0).
She was quick to point out, however, it’s not like these varied options requre Thompson and her players to scrap their defense entirely and start from scratch.
“When I’m talking about options, it’s just one different thing,” Thompson said. “If I’m stopping this, what are they going give us in return? I just go out there, see what we’re seeing, and key on certain things.”
The plan is one thing; the execution is another. Teutopolis’ defense is strong in both facets of the game, with guards Danielle Repking, Jessica Schumacher and Cierra Thompson patrolling the perimeter, and a combination of Madeline Hartke, Anna Hartke and Haley Giles taking on the forwards and post duties, with Chelsey Hardiek entering the fray off the bench.
For all the planning, it didn’t go as they planned on Jan. 11 when they met Breese Central and lost 51-35, in a game where center Kendra Wilken scored 23 points.
The Shoes are reviewing the game tape from that game, but aren’t dwelling too much on it, and now it becomes a chess match between the two coaches.
“We went over the game to see what we had and what we missed,” Thompson said. “They’re probably looking at the same film, and we’re looking for things we might get again. Breese Central has improved and they’re playing well, but I think we’ve improved as well.”
Defense has been just as key over in Breese. The Cougars are averaging 67.25 points per game and allowing just 28.25 points per game, with an average margin of victory at 39 points. They haven’t yielded more than 33 points in any game this postseason.
Teutopolis is 27-5 and the season hasn’t been without its bumps in the road. That’s part of the process for the Lady Shoes.
“We’ve played a bunch of teams to help us get ready for the postseason and do a lot of different things,” Thompson said. “Jessica was out part of the season, we had Madeline out for about a week. Some of those might have been blessings in disguise. I’m hoping those are things that are going to show up.”
Thompson said after the Jan. 11 loss that, like always, her team had some different options defensively they could have employed, but the coach left them in her bag of tricks, waiting for a potential meeting in the Highland Tournament in January or even a Super-Sectional matchup on Monday.
She got her wish, and now it’s time for the Lady Shoes to battle defensively with a fellow defensive juggernaut.
“If you’ve got everybody buying into it you’re going to play great defense; if it’s only four people, you won’t,” she said. “I still don’t think we have reached our potential.”
Tonight’s Salem Super-Sectional begins at about 8 p.m., following the conclusion of the Class 1A Super-Sectional between Goreville and Central A&M.