IHSA Super-Sectional Champions 2014

St. Thomas More advanced to the state final four for the 2nd year in a row defeating Riverton 74-35 tonight at Milliken University.  Tori McCoy led the Sabers with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but it was a well-rounded attack that saw 4 starters in double figures that paced the Sabers tonight.  Randa Harshbarger had 14 points and 9 steals, Lexi Wallen had 13 points, and Liz Bristow had 12 points, and held Riverton’s top player Carlie Cuffle to just 4 points.  After taking a 17-3 1st quarter lead the Sabers were plagued with foul trouble and had to call off their full court pressure in the 2nd quarter as Riverton won the 2nd 10-9.  The Sabers (31-2) came out aggressive in the 3rd and took final control of the game shooting 60% from the field in the 2nd half.

St. Thomas More will face #4 Teutopolis on Friday at Illinois State University in the early game at 6:30pm and are taking a 21 game win streak into the contest.

TV WCIA Link – http://www.illinoishomepage.net/story/d/story/top-ranked-sabers-earn-return-trip-to-state/34202/0py4gWSnWk-ILe0Eb6cAew

TV WCIA Link II – http://www.illinoishomepage.net/story/d/story/local-scoreboard-for-feb-24/28637/sfNuJt47JEuakrf2zkn5Yg

Newspaper N-G Link – http://www.news-gazette.com/sports/prep-sports/girls-basketball/2014-02-24/sabers-making-return-trip-state.html

Newspaper State Journal Register Link – http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140225/SPORTS/140229598/2001/SPORTS

 

Sabers making return trip to state

Mon, 02/24/2014 – 11:05pm | Fred Kroner

DECATUR — St. Thomas More is in its stretch run, and the Sabers are on quite a run.
The state’s top-ranked girls’ basketball team accomplished Monday what it has done throughout the postseason: win by a double-digit margin.
In the Class 2A super-sectional at Millikin University’s Griswold Center, four starters scored in double figures and the other had six assists as the Sabers (31-2) overpowered Riverton 74-35.
St. Thomas More will play in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. state semifinal game in Normal without any of its five tournament contests to date being decided by fewer than 24 points.
“When the lights come on, the stars are to shine,” STM coach Chris Mennig said. “This is a mature team, and everyone understands their role.”
STM forced eight first-quarter turnovers and led 17-3 entering the second quarter. Riverton’s 20-point scorer, senior Carlie Cuffle, was held to four points by Liz Bristow and colleagues.
“We were in a frenzy most of the game,” Riverton coach Devyn Flanagan said. “The press got us flustered. It was our biggest game, in front of the biggest crowd, and we were in a panic. The more we turned it over, the more we panicked.”
Riverton, which didn’t substitute the first 13 minutes, outscored STM 10-9 during the second quarter.
“We took too many threes (going 0 for 7),” Mennig said.
“There was some nerves and anxiety,” Randa Harshbarger said.
Tori McCoy, who picked up two fouls in the first 51/2 minutes, was limited to 18 minutes but had a double-double with game-high totals of 23 points and 10 rebounds. McCoy blocked three shots and, Flanagan said, the 6-foot-4 sophomore is a difficult player to prepare for.
“It’s hard to simulate her length and athleticism in practice,” Flanagan said. “Her wing span is enormous.”
Mennig has made a point of telling McCoy about the importance of staying on the court.
“Her being on the floor changes the game,” he said. “You can see her enthusiasm, but sometimes she is too thirsty.”
Twice after grabbing defensive rebounds, McCoy went coast-to-coast for layups.
Harshbarger just missed a double-double. She scored 14 points and had a game-high nine steals. She said the experience of playing for a state championship a year ago will be valuable as the team prepares for a return trip to Illinois State University.
“We know the environment and what our mentality needs to be,” Harshbarger said. “We’re one step closer.”
Lexi Wallen scored 13 points, and Bristow added 12. Courtney Wax had a game-high six assists.
“When you put together their athleticism, bench and height, they will be a tough team to beat,” Flanagan said. “He’s blessed with a deep bench.”
STM expanded its lead to 37 points in the third quarter and led by as much as 41 in the final period. With two games remaining in the season, Bristow said it was important not to take a step backward as far as momentum.
“We’re coming back (to state) with a chip on our shoulder (after placing second in 2013),” she said. “We want to show what we can do and prove to people we can win. (Monday night), we came together as a team.”
The team’s outside shooting picked up in the fourth quarter. Four different Sabers nailed three-pointers, starting with Harshbarger, Wallen and Wax in the first two minutes. Lauren Croft hit the team’s other trey.
Among the 612 spectators at Millikin was UI coach Matt Bollant and LSU coach Tony Perotti.
The Sabers’ first-round state opponent is five-time champion Teutopolis, which will try to knock off another state power in five days. T-Town topped No. 2 Breese Central 49-44 in a Monday super-sectional at Salem.
“We’ve gotten ourselves back,” Mennig said. “Now we’re playing with house money.”

Girls’ 2A state pairings At Illinois State University Friday’s semifinals 6:30 p.m. — St. Thomas More vs. Teutopolis 8:15 p.m. — Prophetstown vs. Elmhurst Immaculate Conception

Saturday’s games 6:30 p.m. — Third place 8:15 p.m. — Championship

 

St. Thomas More routs Riverton in 2A girls supersectional

By Dave  Kane Staff Writer Posted Feb. 25, 2014 @ 12:01 am

DECATUR — The girls from Riverton High School came away from Monday  night’s basketball game believing they didn’t play up to their  potential.

But their opponent had a lot to do with that.

“We didn’t come out with our best tonight,” said Riverton senior  forward Morgan Heckman after the Hawks’ season came to an end with a 74-35 loss  to top-ranked Champaign St. Thomas More in the Class 2A Decatur Supersectional  at Millkin University.

“We rushed the ball way too much, and we had way too many  turnovers,” Heckman added. “We needed to slow things down. They’re a really  good, athletic team. I’ll give them that. But I’m still really proud of my  team.”

With 6-foot-4 sophomore Tory McCoy posing a major presence despite  just 18 minutes of playing time, St. Thomas More climbed to 31-2 and earned its  second straight state final four appearance.

After finishing second to Nashville last year, the Sabers will try  to go one better. They’ll face Teutopolis in a state semifinal at 6:30 p.m.  Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal. T-Town (28-5) upset previously unbeaten  Breese Central 49-44 in the Salem Supersectional on Monday night.

The Hawks, making their first supersectional appearance since coach  Devyn Flanagan’s senior year in 2004, finished 25-5.

“You could tell we were in a panic early,” said Flanagan, whose team  had seven first-quarter turnovers in falling behind 17-3.

“This was the biggest girls these girls have played in their lives,  in front of the biggest crowd. They were anxious and nervous and excited. You  could see all those things in the first half.

“McCoy is a great player who’s tall and athletic and hard to guard.  It’s hard to simulate something like that in practice.”

McCoy, who’s being recruited by major NCAA Division I programs,  scored a game-high 23 points, blocked three shots and had 10 rebounds to tie  Riverton senior Carlie Cuffle for game honors on the boards.

“Tori just being on the floor changes the game,” said Sabers coach  Chris Mennig. “She wants to impact the game so much when she’s out  there.

“You can see her enthusiasm and love for competing. Sometimes she  gets a little too thirsty, I say. But she’ll gain even more maturity as she gets  older.”

Riverton actually outscored St. Thomas More 10-9 in the second  quarter, scoring six straight points to cut the Sabers’ lead to 21-11. But it  was 26-13 at halftime and 49-26 after three quarters.

With Cuffle drawing much of the Sabers’ defensive attention, she was  held to four points on 2-for-12 shooting from the floor. Heckman had a team-high  17 points, but she — along with junior Kiersten Burge — fouled out in the fourth  quarter.

In addition to the 6-4 McCoy, St. Thomas more also brought 6-1  starter Alexa Wallen, 5-10 Courtney Wax, 6-1 reserve Leah Allison and 6-0  freshman Madison McCoy, Tori’s sister.

“Carly and Morgan are athletic, and they’re used to play girls their  own height or a little taller,” Flanagan said. “They’re used to catching the  ball and going around people.

“Tonight was a real test for them. We were matched against  athleticism and depth and height. You put those three things together, and you  have a tough team to beat.”

Cuffle was playing her final high school basketball game, and she’ll  focus on volleyball at Southeast Missouri State. She said Monday’s loss didn’t  diminish the Hawks’ accomplishments.

“We know we were playing the No. 1 team in the state,” Cuffle said. “The loss doesn’t say anything about what we did this season. We became champions this year, and that’s all we wanted.

“Nothing feels better than this right now. It stinks that we lost,  but we became champions.”

Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140225/Sports/140229598#ixzz2uS2iINlI

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