Effingham Daily News
Neoga's offense clicked on Tuesday, sending Okaw Valley packing and cementing its place in Thursday's Class 1A Regional Championship at Cumberland High School.
The Indians made it look easy by getting out on the fast break to kick start the offense in the 64-27 win, picking up their 20th win along the way.
“We knew we had the guns to do it and our kids like to do that,” Neoga head coach Kim Romack said. “We were knocking stuff down in transition and that makes things a lot easier.”
Romack said she was happy with where her team was at halftime, leading 35-17. Six Indians scored in the half and Romack said many of the points came from right around the basket.
But the offense only got better in the second half, extending its lead to 30 points by the end of the third quarter and 40 points in the fourth quarter.
Jillian Deters led Neoga with 21 points in the game, while EC Thies added 18. Madison Butler scored 11.
“Madi, EC and Jill are really consistent,” Romack said. “It's always nice to have somebody else knock down some shots, too.”
Romack said Olivia Ott's eight-point game was complimentary to the other leading scorers, making the Indians' offense even more difficult to defend.
“Olivia has done a realy nice job for us getting six to 10 points a night,” Romack said.
The Indians got off to a relatively slow start, only leading 22-12 after the first quarter. Romack said the defense changed things up to protect player from early foul trouble.
“Once we got that taken care of, we didn't let it bother us,” Romack said.
Okaw Valley scored 12 points in the first quarter, but only 15 in the final three quarters.
The reaction was pretty simple for Romack, who said her team took care of business in the regional semifinal victory.
“They're hungry for more,” Romack said. “They're ready for Thursday night. They're excited about the opportunity to play in a regional championship again. We came in tonight and were solid throughout.”
The win sets up a rematch between Arcola and Neoga for the regional title. The two teams played each other early this season, with Neoga winning 62-58 on Nov. 21, but Romack said a lot has changed since then.
“Both teams have gotten better,” Romack said. “I'm anxious to see us put the two teams out there on Thursday and let them go at it and see what happens.”
One things hasn't changed, though. That's Arcola's Taylor Edwards, who scored 19 points in the Lady Riders' semifinal win over Tri-County on Tuesday.
“She's even better,” Romack said. “We'll have to figure out how we can contain her.”
Arcola and Neoga will tipoff at 7 p.m. Thursday in Cumberland, for the regional championship.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neoga 22 13 18 11 64
Okaw Valley 12 5 5 5 27
Neoga: Butler 11, Ott 8, Thies 18, Deters 21, Erickson 2, Miah 2, Roy 2
Okaw Valley: Robinson 4, McClain 16, Harlin 3, Birch 2, Dash 2