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.
Vonderheide, W/SS win at Charleston 12-0
Christian Vonderheide had the luxury of choosing which was better.
It was either the grand slam, or a complete game shutout thrown by the right hander.
“They are both pretty equal,” Vonderheide said. “Pitching is more of my thing. The grand slam I got lucky. I swung hard, and I was lucky enough for it to go over the fence."
The win could be more important as Windsor/Stew-Stras pounded a 12-0 win over Charleston at CHS Field.
Czachorski: Time to catch Cup fever
I woke up early Friday morning and did something I never do these days -- I flipped on SportsCenter.
It was the top of the 7 a.m. hour, and unshockingly, ESPN led with discussion of the playoffs.
What left me flabbergasted was they were leading with the NHL playoffs, as I was truly unaware ESPN remembered that hockey was a sport.
Indians' bats too much for Eagles
An 11 a.m. start on Good Friday wasn't too early for Altamont, as the Indians pushed 10 across in the first frame and bested Newton 16-1 in five innings.
Power surge: Homers help Shoes beat Comets 8-4
Teutopolis broke open a close game with four home runs and remained undefeated with an 8-4 win over Stew-Stras/Windsor Thursday afternoon.
Cutts carries Cumberland to 4-3 win
His first three hits were no doubters, but Blayke Cutts’ fourth hit on Thursday was a high bouncer over the glove of Olney third baseman Peyton Billington to win in a walk-off.
McNamee: Questions about EIU's Jimmy G
The typical phrase used in situations like this, I think, is: “He shows potential.” I may not have believed anything I was saying, but at least he was in line to be a four-year starter; at least, he had that.
Pirates push past Flaming Hearts 10-2
It took a bit for the bats to warm up, but Cumberland made the necessary adjustments at the plate and took down Effingham 10-2 Wednesday afternoon.
Newton walks off against Dieterich
For the second straight game, Newton earned a win via the walkoff, this time as Caleb Chesnut drove in the game-winning run with two outs to down Dieterich 5-4.
Walsh, Bulldogs fend off Newton 17-8
Makayla Walsh played the role of starter and stopper.
She relieved St. Anthony pitcher Jenna Woltman, who was struggling to locate her pitches, and stopped the bleeding during a four-run fourth inning.
Flaming Hearts handle Olney
Effingham cruised to its second dual win of the year, taking all nine matches from Olney Tuesday afternoon.
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- Vonderheide, W/SS win at Charleston 12-0