BEECHER CITY —
Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City wont be playing for a third consecutive National Trail Conference tournament championship on Saturday, after losing 46-31 to Dieterich on Tuesday.
The wheels came off, after starting the third quarter on a 4-0 run to take a 22-19 lead, when Dieterich's Rachel Schmidt made a 3-pointer to tie the game and catapult the Movin' Maroons on a 14-2 run.
CHBC head coach Carolyn Wendte called a timeout when the Hornets fell behind, 28-24, but whatever was said in the huddle couldn't fix what was happening on the court. Dieterich scored seven unanswered points, forcing Wendte to call another timeout.
“Nobody wanted to step up and be that go-to person,” Wendte said. “We've had that for many years and everybody would pass to that go-to person. Everybody wanted to pass and nobody wanted to shoot.”
The ghost of Micah Jones haunted the Hornets, having been the “go-to person” during each of the team's last two NTC titles and IHSA state tournament final four appearances.
Jones, now a freshman at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, scored 25 points Tuesday night in a game against Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, while her former high school teammates lost to Dieterich and Wendte's sister.
“This is a dream come true, basically, for me to knock off my sister,” Dieterich head coach Donetta Ohnesorge said. “The girls wanted it as bad as I did and it showed.”
CHBC played from behind most of the first half, but took a late second quarter lead, 18-14, after a 6-0 run. Ashley Miller led the Hornets on the run, with four of six points.
However, it was the way Dieterich finished the half after the Hornets' run that Ohnesorge said gave her team confidence starting the second half.
The Maroons answered the six-point run with a 5-0 run to end the second quarter, finished off when Schmidt stole a ball from a CHBC player and sent and outlet pass to Courtney Flach for a breakaway layup. Mallorie Vahling also made three free throws during the run.
“It was very important taking that one-point lead into halftime,” Ohnesorge said. “Last night, we came out dead in the third quarter. You have to make the third quarter count and we came out strong.”
Wendte said Dieterich's tough defense led to the Hornets' undoing, but multiple times her offense turned the ball over when they attempted full-court throws to try to create a fast break.
The Maroons also outrebounded the Hornets throughout the game, especially on the offensive end. Dieterich finished two offensive rebounds for four points during a run in the first quarter that put them ahead, 12-8.
After Elizabeth Abbott made a shot and got fouled, Vahling grabbed an offensive rebound on the ensuing free throw and scored. Then, the Hornets stopped Dieterich from scoring off of a turnover until Schmidt scored on an offensive put-back.
And in another aspect of the game, Jones' presence was missed.
“I know we're short, but I've had short teams for years until Micah came around,” Wendte said. “This group didn't give their heart and guys to blocking out tonight. I don't know how badly we got outrebounded tonight, but I know it had to have been horrendous.”
Dieterich advances to play top-seeded St. Anthony, who the Maroons lost to last week. The NTC semifinal game will start at 7 p.m. Friday in Beecher City. CHBC gets a bye in the tournament until Saturday, when it will play the winner of a Friday consolation game.
Neoga vs. Brownstown/St. Elmo
Neoga's offense looked sharp during multiple stretches of the Indians' 60-46 win over Brownstown/St. Elmo on Tuesday in the NTC tournament.
The Indians went on a 20-4 run, bridging the first and second quarters, after leading by only six points, 14-8. Later, they scored the first 11 points of the third quarter.
The Bombers needed six points at the end of the third quarter to face an 18-point deficit moving forward. They weren't intimidated, starting the quarter on a 10-2 run that including two 3-pointers.
“We made our nice little run, but I told them that Brownstown was going to be ready to come back and fight,” Neoga head coach Kim Romack said. “I think in the fourth quarter we kind of lost our focus.”
Bethany Oberlink made a free throw to bring the Bombers within 10 points, 48-39, for the first time since the first quarter – a quarter that she dominated, scoring the first six points in a 6-6 game.
However, Neoga's offense regrouped and showed how quickly it could turn a nine-point lead into an even bigger one, led by Jillian Deters' 19 points and EC Thies' 17 points.
The Indians missed two free throws, but an offensive putback scored two points. A Bombers' turnover led to an easy layup for Neoga on the other end. Madison Butler sank a jumper. Neoga led 55-43.
“Everybody was playing together, looking for passes and working the ball around to get the show we wanted,” Romack said.
An offensive putback by Jaycie Roy built the Indians' lead to 14 points a couple possessions later and Neoga maintained a 14-point cushion to finish the game.
Although Neoga won, the Bombers comeback was enough to worry Romack moving forward. The Indians will play Altamont at 8:30 p.m. Friday in an NTC semifinal.
“I told them we can't have a stretch of basketball like that and expect to win very often,” Romack said.
The Bombers will play South Central in a consolation game at 5:30 p.m. Friday, for the chance to play Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City on Saturday.
Altamont vs. South Central
South Central was missing four players, including one starter, because of illness going into Tuesday's game against Altamont, which didn't help as the Cougars fell 45-21.
Altamont's size proved to be a factor, trotting out three players who were at least 6-feet tall, especially in the third quarter. The Indians extended a 13-point halftime lead to 37-17 by the end of the third quarter, with help from players like Gabby Alwardt.
“The big thing is being aware of how you're playing and how you can score,” Altamont head coach Katie Lurkins said. “It was a conscious effort to figure out what's successful for us.”
Alwardt finished with 14 points, which was second only to Madison Ohnesorge's team-high 18.
The Indians led 10-4 after the first quarter, missing opportunities on the offensive end and made the necessary adjustments. The lead grew in each quarter of the game.
“I don't know what our shooting percentage was, but it was poor,” Lurkins said. “I told them to outrebound (South Central), but it doesn't count when we miss six shots and get the rebound all six times.”
South Central hung around in the first quarter and much of the second quarter, but South Central head coach Gary Kapper said the task was a little too overwhelming for his thinned-out roster.
“The first half, especially the first quarter, we were just going crazy,” Kapper said. “We were out of control. We had people dribbling down the court, who probably shouldn't have been. We just have to play more calm and composed.”
The Indians will play Neoga for a spot in Saturday's championship game, while South Central is set up for a matchup against Brownstown/St. Elmo in the consolation bracket.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Dieterich 6 13 18 9 46
CHBC 6 12 7 6 31
Dieterich: Abbott 6, Flach 13, Schmidt 12, Vahling 15
CHBC: Morrison 9, Miller 12, Riley 4, Adams 2, Herrmann 4
Neoga 22 10 14 14 60
Brownstown/St. Elmo 10 9 9 18 46
Neoga: Butler 14, Ott 2, Thies 17, Deters 19, Erickson 2, Roy 4, Buening 2
Brownstown/St. Elmo: Pruett 8, Oberlink 15, Austin 2, Fitch 5, Hill 16
Altamont 10 14 13 8 45
South Central 4 7 6 4 21
Altamont: Ohnesorge 18, Vaughn 3, Smith 2, Tillman 4, Wendling 4, Alwardt 14
South Central: Hahn 11, King 4, McCoy 6