Lauren Stephenson is making her case for the best sixth man.
“My sophomore year, the team didn't understand everyone's role,” said Stephenson. “I knew going into my senior year that I'd be that sixth man. The sooner I'd accept my role, the better I could help the team.”
Despite leading scorer Caitlin Kaufman not making a shot from the field, Stephenson made a huge impact with a game high 18 points off the bench, making seven of nine shots.
Along with Stephenson's big night, Jantzen Michael added 17 points, while Josie Zerrusen finished with 13 points and six rebounds to lead Effingham, the No. 11 ranked team in Class 3A, to a 58-38 win over Charleston at Baker Gym.
“She's just one of our best players,” said Effingham coach Jeff Schafer. “I don't know why my gut doesn't start her. It's hard to look her in the eye and not start her, but she has so much success in that role. Last year coming off the bench was Jantzen's role and she accepted it. To have a kid like Lauren, who's not selfish, is great for this team. She just wants to win.”
For Charleston, it was their second straight loss at home as the team fell to Mount Zion last Thursday to fall to 10-8 overall and 3-3 in the Apollo Conference.
Morgan Sherwood led Charleston with 17 points and seven rebounds.
“We have played two very good basketball teams while being shorthanded,” said Charleston coach Jeff Miller. “We have to cut down on the turnovers. You aren't going to be in too many ball game with 11 unforced turnovers in the first half.”
For a moment it looked like things were going Charleston's way when Kaufman picked up her second foul with 6:12 left to play, but Zerrusen converted a rare four-point play, and something clicked for the Lady Hearts on both sides of the ball.
Effingham finished the first quarter with an 18-2 run, with seven points coming from both Zerrusen and Stephenson. The defense cranked up as well as Charleston finished the quarter by missing their last eight shots, while committing four turnovers.
“Josie made some big plays, and it translated over to everyone else,” said Schafer. “We got off to a slow start, and without Caitlin scoring as well. That's why we are 16-0 though. It's because of our depth. It makes it hard on who to stop.”
Charleston's woes continued over as Haiven Bowersock's 3-point shot with 3:43 left in the half was the first field goal and the lead grew to 24-8.
Charleston was able to cut down the lead to 12 points, but Effingham ended the quarter with an 11-2 run to lead 35-14 at halftime.
Of course, six of those 11 points came from the hustling Stephenson.
“It just depends what the team needs,” said Stephenson. “I may need to be out playing defense some nights. It just depends. When we played Cahokia the other night, Josie (Zerrusen) erupted for 30 points, and we looked for her. You never know when someone on this team will have a big night.”
Only two Lady Hearts scored in the third quarter, but Michael provided the lift by scoring eight of the 11 third quarter points. Charleston trailed by as many as 23 points, but were able to cut it as close as 43-29.
Effingham cruised in the fourth quarter as the team improved to 16-0 on the season and 5-0 in the conference.
“I thought the key was the start Josie had,” said Schafer. “She made some big hustle plays, and I felt that everybody watched her, and they started getting on the board. The intensity level carried over from player to player.”
The Lady Hearts will look to keep their perfect record alive tonight, traveling to Newton in a makeup game. Effingham bested Newton 47-29 back in November at Newton's Bob Kerans Tournament.
Effingham 18 17 11 12 58
Charleston 5 9 15 11 38
Effingham: Michael 17, Kaufman 2, Robb 6, Zerrusen 13, Stephenson 18, Field 2
Charleston: Crowder 6, Miller 3, Gossett 1, Sherwood 17, Bowersock 3, Rennels 4, O'Dell 4
Lauren Stephenson is making her case for the best sixth man.
Hearts to prep with Mattoon 7-on-7
Two weeks ago, Effingham was supposed to start shaking off the rust with a 7-on-7 football tournament in Mattoon. Naturally, it rained and was canceled.
So Saturday, the Flaming Hearts will head up to Mattoon and play their first 7-on-7 event of the season, taking part in an 10- team field with Mattoon, Rochester, Robinson, Marshall, Cahokia and Pleasant Plains from Illinois, with Terre Haute North and Northview coming from Indiana. Rochester is bringing two squads.
Newton Post 20 plays Belleville Saturday
With the District 23 tournament behind them, Newton Post 20 now knows its fate for the Fifth Division Junior Legion tournament this weekend in Bethalto.
Newton will play Belleville Post 58 at 2:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Bethalto, in the third game of six on the day.
Effingham's season comes to a close with 11-1 loss to Salem
A 1-0 lead for Effingham Post 120 rapidly evaporated, and the post’s Junior Legion season came to an end with a 11-1 loss in five innings to Salem Post 128 Tuesday night.
The game was for the final spot of District 23 in the divisional tournament, with Newton Post 20 and Breese Post 252 Gray punching their tickets by winning their district divisions.
Newton Post 20 falls short against Breese Gray 9-3
While the District 23 title ultimately exceeded Newton Post 20’s grasp, their season will continue in Bethalto.
Newton took on Breese Post 252 Gray for the Junior Legion District 23 title as the two division winners, but Breese’s bats proved too much for Newton in an 9-3 loss for Post 20.
“The innings where they put some runs on us, we gave them some extra outs,” said Newton coach John Grunloh. “You’ve got to make the plays when you play better teams.”
Barnes' one-hitter boosts Post 120; Effingham beats Dieterich 1-0
Ryan Barnes hasn’t seen a lot of time with Effingham Post 120’s junior legion team this season, but he showed up in a big way Monday night in a 1-0 win over Dieterich Post 628.
The win kept Effingham’s season alive one more day in the Junior Legion District 23 tournament, as the post will face Salem Post 128 at 5:30 p.m. today for the district’s final spot in the divisional round. Salem Post 128 downed Mt. Vernon Post 141 1-0 in the West Division loser’s bracket, setting up the final with Effingham today.
Newton Post 20 tops Effingham Post 120 7-5 late
Most of the games at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament have seen pitching take control, but the pitchers in Sunday night's Effingham Post 120/Newton Post 20 game faced an uphill battle.
While Brock Mammoser started the game for Post 20 on the hill and struggled, he came through with the biggest hit in the game, putting Newton up for good in a 7-5 win over Effingham.
Dieterich Post 628 eliminates Teutopolis Post 924 3-2
Errors proved to be Teutpolis Post 924's undoing against Dieterich Post 628, as Dieterich's sixth-inning rally in an 3-2 win were boosted by three Teutopolis errors
To lead off the sixth, Trenton Poe reached on an error by Brock Bueker, and came around to score on an infield single by Ryan Radloff with a throwing error on Bueker. Poe was already on third when the ball went in the Teutopolis dugout, awarding Poe home to tie the game.
Bryce McClain followed with an RBI single to score Radloff and put Post 628 up for good. Dieterich scored again on a Briar Schmidt groundout where first baseman Brant Bueker tried to get an inning-ending out at second, but the throw was wild and brought home McClain.
Teutopolis, Deters down Altamont Post 512 2-0
TEUTOPOLIS — Lucas Deters didn't get a ton of run support from his Teutopolis Post 924 teammates, but he didn't need much in a complete-game shutout, and Teutopolis ended Altamont Post 512's season with a 2-0 win Sunday afternoon.
Deters' efforts at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament kept Teutopolis alive in the loser's bracket to face Dieterich Post 628 immediately following the win.
Two-out rally pushes Dieterich to win; Post 628 beats Vandalia Post 95 4-3
Down one with two outs and Vandalia Post 95 ace Zach Schaal coming in in relief, Dieterich Post 628 had a tough task to keep its season alive.
But down 3-2, Cole Hartke and Charlie Thoele laced back-to-back singles to score Briar Schmidt and Flach, respectively, to take a 4-3 lead.
Clayton Campton held the lead in the seventh, striking out two and getting Post 95 in order to keep Dieterich's season alive.
Late Newton rally downs Robinson 4-2
Newton Post 20 rarely had an answer for Robinson Post 69's Brayden Burch, but thanks to a few key Robinson errors, Newton took their District 23 opener 4-2 Friday night.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Mitch Jansen led off with a walk, followed by Tim Weber reaching on an error by Robinson shortstop Zander Laino and a bunt single by Luke Geier.
Mike Carr came through with a bloop single to center, scoring Jansen to put Newton up 2-1.Burch struck out John Grunloh and Joe Stone, but second baseman Cameron Neese booted a grounder by Mitch Bierman and two more runs scored.
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