Effingham Daily News
The Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City Hornet seniors have been saying all postseason they are not done after each accomplishment.
Saying it is one thing; showing it is another.
Micah Jones, Ava Paruleski and Autumn Riley did just that, leading the Hornets to a thrilling overtime 70-57 win over Goreville to advance to their third state tournament in four years. It was the second straight year they knocked off the Blackcats in the Super-Sectionals.
"These kids worked hard over the summer and they wanted this," said CHBC coach Carolyn Wendte. "As we reach (their goals), you can see the light in their eyes."
CHBC advances to the state semifinals Friday afternoon, taking on Mount Pulaski at 2 p.m. at Illinois State's Redbird Arena in Normal.
The game was about as tight as possible for 32 of the 36 minutes played, with neither team being able to pull away despite ample opportunities on both sides.
But the seniors locked it down in overtime, outscoring Goreville 15-2 and clinching a trip to Redbird Arena.
Jones had 25 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists. Paruleski scored 24 points and dished out five assists, and Riley added 17 points and six rebounds to boot.
The game was about as chaotic as possible, with Goreville turning the ball over 24 times and CHBC committing 18 turnovers.
But the coolest heads were those of the Hornets, led by Paruleski at the point.
"When we were getting a lot of turnovers, I knew we needed to set it up, slow it down, get a second to think, breathe and wish for the best," Paruleski said.
Early in the game, Goreville made it clear Jones would have little room to breathe all night, and it was Riley who picked up the slack.
Jones left the game with two fouls late in the first quarter down 11-9, but the Hornets weathered the storm. She re-entered to start the second quarter.
Riley had two points in the first quarter, but scored 10 points in the second quarter as CHBC came back to take the lead, capping it off with a three to make it 25-22 late in the quarter.
"We had a one-on-one conversation before the sectionals," Wendte said. "This is your time to shine. Everyone knows how to try and defend Micah and Ava, this was your time to shine, and that kid shined and shined with glory tonight."
Goreville's Haley Darnell hit a buzzer-beating three to tie the game at 27-27 entering the second half.
The Blackcats began to pull away in the third quarter, extending the lead to 39-33 halfway through the second as Alison Webb and Taylor Odom took control inside.
That'd be the last time they would be in control. Paruleski hit a three, then a layup to cut the lead to two points.
Webb was called for a technical foul after a scrum for the ball with Jones, and Paruleski hit the two free throws. Jones would score on back-to-back possessions, ending the quarter on an 11-1 run as CHBC led 44-40.
Jones picked up her fourth foul just seconds into the fourth quarter, but only sat for 19 seconds before coming back into the game. Foul trouble was never an issue after that for the senior.
"Kirby Herrmann and (Jones) did a defensive switch," Wendte said. "That ain't this old lady calling that, that's some smart kids calling that.
The pace picked up substantially from there, and when the dust settled, CHBC led 51-48 with five minutes left.
Jones stole the ball and made a layup, but injured her wrist and had to be pulled from the game. Webb made a layup in her absence, but Jones re-entered the game as soon as possible up 53-52.
CHBC extended its lead to three on Kacie Hilt's only basket of the night. Webb got another layup, and forced a Paruleski turnover down 55-54.
Odom was fouled with 31 seconds left and hit one of two free throws to tie the game. Jones turned the ball over with eight seconds left, giving Goreville one last possession, but they too turned it over, send the game to overtime.
Goreville won the tip, but Jones forced a steal and scored, setting the tone early.
The Blackcats couldn't keep their composure, as Brittney Pritchett was called for a technical of her own after fouling Jones on a rebound. They made two of the three freebies, and it was never close again.
The Lady Hornets shot 39.7 percent for the game, compared to Goreville's 33.9 percent. The Blackcats went 1-for-7 in overtime, compared to CHBC's 2-for-2 slate from the field.
Webb had a great game of her own, scoring 26 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against CHBC.
As for the Hornets? It's pretty simple.
"Yeah, we're not done," Paruleski said.
CHBC 70, Goreville 57
Goreville 13 14 13 15 2 - 57
CHBC 9 18 17 11 15 - 70
Goreville - A. Webb 26, Darnell 7, Wright 3, Pritchett 8, Sullivan 3, Odom 10
CHBC - Jones 25, Riley 17, Paruleski 24, Herrmann 2, Hilt 2