Effingham Daily News
Teutopolis hadn’t played like itself, so it was only a matter of time before the Shoes found a spark to battle back into Friday’s Class 2A state semifinal.
Champaign St. Thomas More center Tori McCoy picked up her second and third fouls in the first 25 seconds of the third quarter, the Sabers committed two turnovers and missed two free throws and there was the Shoes’ opening.
The Shoes scored the first six points of the quarter and outscored the Sabers, 12-5, in the first six minutes to pull closer to the lead, 33-30.
“We were three points away — three little points — but couldn’t hang on,” Teutopolis’ Madeline Hartke said. “I thought we had a chance.”
McCoy scored the last five points of the third to start a 19-4 run that carried halfway through the fourth quarter and propelled the Sabers into Saturday’s championship game.
The Shoes (28-6) lost 63-43, and will play in at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the third-place game against Elmhurst IC Catholic at Illinois State’s Redbird Arena.
Randa Harshbarger sank a 3-pointer that brought the Sabers’ lead to 11 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
“That was a fun, fun battle,” St. Thomas More head coach Chris Mennig said. “T-Town gave us everything we expected and more.”
Teutopolis’ offense never got as in sync as the Sabers, who scored a game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter.
The Shoes shot 34 percent from the field, compared to the Sabers’ 50 percent, and leading scorer Madeline Hartke was limited to two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
They committed 12 first-half turnovers to allow the Sabers to take a 28-18 lead at half.
“We had to take care of the ball, but I think a lot of it is that there were some nerves out there early on,” Teutopolis head coach Laurie Thompson said. “We just weren’t confident.”
St. Thomas More (32-2) forced the turnovers, playing a full-court press defense and using their quickness to step into passing lanes.
Mennig said he expected the Shoes to make a run in the second half, after his defense settled into the same half-court set from their press in the first two quarters.
“We really mixed things up and really started to change up to try to keep them on their toes,” Mennig said. “I knew they’d have some comfort level eventually, but it’s all about keeping teams off balance and our kids were able to do that.”
Teutopolis looked to Chelsey Hardiek for a team-high 11 points, while Cierra Thompson added 10 as the only other Shoes player in double figures.
Elmhurst IC Catholic (25-7) lost to Prophetstown in the second Class 2A semifinal on Friday to move into the third-place game to play Teutopolis.
“We were all tense and we weren’t playing like ourselves,” Hartke said. “We’ll hopefully come out with more confidence and I have a feeling we will because we’re all going to want it more.”
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Teutopolis 5 13 12 13 43
St. Thomas More 16 12 10 25 63
Teutopolis: A. Hartke 1, M. Hartke 2, Giles 2, Schumacher 6, Repking 8, Thompson 10, Hardiek 11
St. Thomas More: McCoy 17, Wallen 13, Harshbarger 15, Bristow 13, Wax 3, Allison 3