Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


February 20, 2014

Lady Hearts advance, set school record

Effingham to face Salem for Regional title

EFFINGHAM — Effingham took care of business Wednesday night, downing Mattoon 60-46 in the Class 3A Effingham Regional semifinal and making school history in the process.

The win was the Lady Hearts’ 27th of the season, breaking the school record for wins in a single season, which stood at 26 entering this season.

While it wasn’t the prettiest win, it did follow the name of the game for Effingham: survive and advance.

“They finished it off,” said Effingham coach Jeff Schafer. “That’s all that matters right now, we’re going to the next game and got by playing mediocre tonight.”

The first half was closer than the teams’ previous matchups — which Effingham (27-3) won by 23 and 30 -- with a game Mattoon squad keeping the game within two and eight points for much of the half.

After Effingham led 16-13 entering the second, Mattoon cut the lead to one with 7:08 left in the quarter. Effingham ratcheted up the defense, putting on pressure with a three-quarters court press, and pushed the lead out to 25-20 by the half.

“We wanted to speed them up a little,” Schafer said. “When we did it, it changed the tempo of the game and made them play faster than they wanted to.”

Things kept going up and down in the second half, with Mattoon cutting the lead to 31-29 with 4:00 minutes to play in the third on back-to-back baskets by Samantha Thompson. But Effingham responded with a 12-4 run to end the quarter behind Jantzen Michael, Brittany Beals and Lauren Stephenson.

The fourth quarter was more of the same, with Effingham continuing to keep Mattoon at bay and led by as many as 16 before the end of the game

Josie Zerrusen and Stephenson would lead all scorers on the night with 17 points each, and Stephenson had 11 in the second half. She started the game, replacing Felicia Totten in the lineup, and took care of business down low in the post.

“We were looking for a better offensive start,” Schafer said. “Felicia’s our defensive ace, and we were looking to change things up after the rough stretch for us. Lauren can score, and she did what she needed to do.”

Zerrusen had 15 of her 17 in the first three quarters, while Caitlin Kaufman added 11 on the night. Beals had six points off the bench, but Schafer was quick to point out how key she was to the effort.

Effingham advances to the Effingham Regional championship game, taking on a Salem team that they split the season series with. Effingham downed Salem 59-50 on Jan. 28, while Salem returned the favor with a 60-43 win over Effingham on Feb. 6.

Salem (19-10) beat Olney 51-36 Wednesday night in the other regional semi, and Schafer said there were still some things to work on for the Lady Hearts.

“We’ve just got to take care of the basketball, keep playing together,” he said. “That’s been the key for us all year long.”

The Effingham Regional championship begins at 7 p.m. Friday.

Mattoon 13 7 13 13 46

Effingham 16 9 18 17 60

Mattoon: Considine 2, Jackson 11, Fisher 3, Phipps 3, Bath 12, Sa. Thompson 13, Si. Thompson 2

Effingham: Michael 7, Beals 6, Stephenson 17, Kaufman 11, Robb 2, Zerrusen 17


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