Effingham Daily News
Neoga rattled off 14 unanswered points in the third quarter, doubling its lead and putting Tri-County away for good in its 79-44 win on Monday.
The Indians took a 14-point lead into halftime and vowed to keep it that way, but when Tri-County came out of the locker room and matched their first four points, head coach Kim Romack called a timeout to remind them what they said they would do.
“We didn't want to give them an opportunity to get back into the game,” Romack said. “If they were going to score, they needed to score contested.”
Neoga started the run with 4:39 left in the quarter and it took another 3:30 for Tri-County to score another basket, immediately after the Indians emptied their bench.
Jillian Deters led Neoga with 23 points, 13 rebounds and five steals, while EC Thies and Madison Butler scored 16 points apiece. Eight different players scored for Neoga.
“It was a fun game,” Romack said. “Everything kind of clicked at once. We were on tonight.”
The game opened up after a chippy first quarter, during which the Neoga and Tri-County combined for 22 points and 15 fouls. Tri-County's Abby Smith, who scored 20 of the Titans' 44 points, picked up her fourth foul with 5:09 left in the second quarter.
Tri-County played Neoga close with Smith in the game, trailing 14-13 in the second quarter. Without her, Neoga went on a 17-4 run and took a 34-20 lead into halftime.
Romack said she thought that might be the case when Smith, who was the tallest player on the floor alongside Deters, left the game.
“We kind of had a plan,” Romack said. “We knew the Smith girl was a big part of their team. We wanted to get her out of the game as soon as we could.”
Similar to Smith, Deters found herself in foul trouble in the first quarter. Deters committed two of Neoga's six fouls in the first quarter, but Romack took her out of the game. Smith stayed in, only to double her foul total midway through the second quarter.
Neoga bench players like Jaycie Roy and Ellie Buening helped the Indians handle early foul trouble. Roy and Buening scored nine and six points, respectively.
Only one non-starter scored for Tri-County and nobody besides Smith scored more than seven points.
“We wanted to get them in foul trouble and we did that in the first half, obviously,” Romack said. “We got ourselves in a little bit of foul trouble, too, but we were able to play around that.”
The Indians extended their lead to 30 points in the fourth quarter, 68-38, and continued their offensive effort by scoring 11 of the last 17 points of the game.
Neoga, fresh off of its second-place finish in this weekend's National Trail Conference tournament, improves to 4-3 this season. The Indians are off until Monday when they play South Central, after playing three games in four days.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tri-County 9 11 8 16 44
Neoga 13 21 21 24 79
Tri-County: E Brown 4, Smith 20, Eskew 2, A Brown 7, Edwards 5, Humphries 6
Neoga: Butler 16, Ott 3, Thies 16, Deters 23, Erickson 3, Miah 3, Roy 9, Buening 6