Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

February 19, 2014

Defense leads T-Town to Sectional final

Alex McNamee
Effingham Daily News

CASEY — Teutopolis had two ways to defend Harrisburg's dribble drive and the second one worked better.

The Bulldogs used their main offensive play to make four 3-pointers and trail by six points in the first half against Teutopolis, but the Shoes went to their second option in the second half and won 55-36 in the Casey Sectional semifinals on Tuesday.

The Shoes limited Harrisburg to one 3-pointer in the second half, taking their six-point lead to as many as 20 points twice in the last two quarters after abandoning a more straight-up style of defense.

“When I've scouted them, that's the only thing they run,” Teutopolis head coach Laurie Thompson said. “I thought our second option, doing more switching and communicating, looked much better.”

Teutopolis' defensive adjustment also exposed Harrisburg's lack of length and athleticism, which Bulldogs head coach Jake Stewart said the Shoes have plenty of.

“That's their defense,” Stewart said. “They don't let you get to the basket. They'd rather make you shoot shots over long, outstretched arms and, in the second half, they did a better job covering up our shooters and stopping the drive.”

Unlike their defensive change, Cierra Thompson and the Shoes' offense was steady throughout. Thompson scored a game-high 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from three-point range.

Stewart said Thompson's performance “killed” his team, but the Bulldogs struggled to control either of the Shoes' top three scorers.

Madeline Hartke finished with 13 points, including nine in the second half, and Jessica Schumacher added 12 with six in the third quarter alone.

Schumacher made one of her six jumpers to give Teutopolis a 36-24 lead with 1:04 left in the third quarter, which was the Shoes' biggest lead up to that point.

Thompson hit a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to give the Shoes a 15-point lead going into the fourth.

“When (Cierra) hits like that, zones are going to have to respect her, too, and that's going to open it up for us,” Thompson said. “She was open and when she is open, she has a green light and she knows that.”

Hartke finished with a double-double, adding 11 rebounds to her 13 points. She also finished with five assists, while Thompson led the team with six.

Thompson said it will be performances like those that will help the Shoes win a sectional championship on Thursday, when they play Mount Carmel.

“We have to be more aggressive to the basket against Mount Carmel, than we were tonight,” Thompson said. “We've got to be prepared defensively, definitely, but offensively, as well.”

Mount Carmel beat Sullivan, 78-43, to advance to Thursday's title game against the Shoes. Tyra Buss, an Indiana University commit and Illinois' all-time leading scorer, led the Aces with 50 points.

Her high scoring night came as no surprise to Thompson, whose team has had Buss' number as the Shoes have knocked out the Aces in each of the last three years.

The Shoes coach said she doesn't plan on changing her game plan against Buss, given the success they've had against her with a number of different defenders over the years.

“We always have a couple options that we're going to do,” Thompson said. “There's another option I didn't even get to in the past. I'm going to keep it like I've always done it and see what happens.”

The sectional championship will tip off at 7 p.m. Thursday in Casey.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.

Teutopolis     10 14 15 16     55

Harrisburg     7 11 6 12     36

Teutopolis: Schumacher 12, Thompson 19, Hardiek 5, A. Hartke 4, Smith 2, M. Hartke 13

Harrisburg: Ferrell 11, Burtis 5, Jones 9, Murray 4, Hobbs 7