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.
Maroons hoping first time's the charm
In two years at the helm of the Dieterich Movin' Maroons, Jeff Staser is 45-17 with a trip to the regional final in 2013, and regional and sectional crowns in 2014.
In the process, he's brought Dieterich to uncharted territory, as the Maroons will play in its first-ever Super-Sectional game tonight against Sesser-Valier at 6 p.m. at Southern Illinois University.
Shoes "ready to break through"
The eight Teutopolis Wooden Shoes seniors have accomplished enough to make almost every other high school in Illinois jealous.
Three area runners medal at SIU
A pair of area runners started off the track season with a bang, as St. Anthony's Anna Sophia Keller and Cumberland's Tye Sutherland took home first-place medals in the opening meet of the season Saturday.
Teutopolis advances to 4th straight Super-Sectional
Teutopolis couldn't have started each of the first three quarters any better.
The Wooden Shoes Shoes took an 11-0 lead in the first five minutes of the first quarter and started the second and third quarters on 7-0 and 9-0 runs, respectively.
Their third-quarter outburst gave them the 17-point lead that was too much for Greenville to come back from. The Shoes won 64-53 to advance to Tuesday's Class 2A Carbondale Super-Sectional at Southern Illinois University. It's Teutopolis' fourth-straight trip to the Super-Sectional round.
Maroons make history
With just more than 12 minutes left, Dieterich's offense was scuffling and the Movin' Maroons trailed St. Anthony by 11, 34-23.
Then Alex Bohnhoff kick started the Maroons' offense with a pair of 3-pointers, and Dieterich completed a big comeback to down their NTC rivals 58-51 and win its first-ever sectional title
Zerrusen reflects on 1K milestone, career
Josie Zerrusen used to be a handful for her Effingham coaches, but turned into a headache for opponents by the end her senior season.
Zerrusen, the only one of four Hearts seniors to reach 1,000 points in her career this season, was preoccupied with scoring points as a sophomore on a 20-10 team in 2012.
But the Hearts improved as Zerrusen matured, recording 54 wins in the last two seasons, including a school-record 28 this season and a regional championship. Zerrusen grew up by changing her attitude and refusing to take summers off.
All-NTC showdown set at sectionals
At least one area team will play Monday at Southern Illinois University for Super-Sectionals. Teutopolis is looking to make it two.
Tonight will mark the end of the road for either St. Anthony (22-10) or Dieterich (22-8), as the NTC rivals clash for the Class 1A Red Hill Sectional championship. A win would be Dieterich’s first-ever sectional crown, and it would be the first for St. Anthony since 2001.
Teutopolis (20-9) is looking to advance to the Super-Sectional round for the fourth-straight season and is playing for a sectional title for the fifth-straight year. The Wooden Shoes take on Greenville for the Class 2A Vandalia Sectional title.
Olney ends Effingham's season
Effingham battled offensive woes in waves this season and found ways to win almost 80 percent of the time, but not on Wednesday.
Olney, one of the Hearts' 20 victims this year, ended Effingham's season with a 35-32 win in the Salem Regional, surviving a poor shooting night as well.
Dieterich advances in convincing fashion
The Dieterich Movin' Maroons used a January loss to Patoka to motivate themselves Wednesday night at the Class 1A Red Hill Sectional.
It was more successful than they ever could have hoped for, as Dieterich stomped the Patoka Warriors 61-39 and advanced to Friday's sectional final against St. Anthony.
St. Anthony edges Oblong 72-69
BRIDGEPORT — A rare miss by Oblong’s Koert Mehler made the most noise.
Mehler heaved a 75-foot, full-court shot that barely rimmed out to send the game to overtime; instead, St. Anthony (22-10) survived 72-69 to advance to Friday’s Class 1A Red Hill Sectional championship.
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