BLOOMINGTON — Host Central Catholic High School’s one-two punch of Bailey Coffman and Lauren Shanks got help from seven role players to knock out Decatur MacArthur, 78-63, in a Class 3A regional semifinal on Tuesday
Coffman, the Executioner of the Euro-step, had a career-high 28 points to go with 10 rebounds and four blocks while Shanks provided 15 points, four steals and three assists.
“I kind of started that (Euro-step) last year, just watching other people play, working on it,” Coffman said. “I’m a lot more confident in it than I was last year.”
The top-seeded Saints (22-5) will try to win their fifth consecutive regional and 26th in school history in Thursday’s 7 p.m. final against No. 4 seed Rochester (19-12). Thursday’s winner heads to Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. sectional semifinal at Lincoln to face the Rantoul Regional champion.
The Rockets advanced with a 39-28 victory over No. 5 seed University High (11-19). Rochester also topped the Pioneers 42-25 on Nov. 30 and 47-46 on Jan. 27.
The Saints broke on top, 10-6, before the Generals made a 12-4 run. No. 6 seed MacArthur (19-13) sank five 3-pointers en route to a 37-32 halftime lead. Coffman helped Central overcome 10 first-half turnovers with 14 points.
“The first half, we definitely had trouble breaking their press,” the 6-foot-1 junior said. “We were trying to figure how to pass through it instead of dribbling. I think we did a really good job of that in the second half.”
Indeed, Central opened the third quarter with a 10-4 run than ended with six consecutive points from Shanks to go up, 42-41.
Coffman’s three-point play later put the Saints in front to stay at 48-47 with 1:45 left in the third quarter. After MacArthur coach Mike Williams was assessed a technical for straying from the coaching box, Katie Steinman’s two free throws became part of a 14-5 run that made it 73-56.
Abbey Davis scored 10 points for Central, which outshot its guest from the field, .475 to .352.
Saint coach Debbie Coffman’s preparation for speedy MacArthur focused on rebounding, but the Generals earned a 23-10 halftime advantage on the glass.
“I don’t think we bought into it until halftime when we realized how many offensive boards we gave up,” the coach said. “I thought we did a better job the second half rebounding and taking care of the ball.”
The Saints finished with 18 turnovers to MacArthur’s 21. Courtnee Riley led the Generals with 22 points while teammate Quincienia Jackson had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
U High finished a low-scoring first half with a 9-2 run to go up, 13-10, at intermission. Addy Loeffler led the Pioneers with eight first-half points, but went scoreless the rest of the way.
Kassidy Patton’s basket to open the fourth quarter pulled U High into a tie at 26. Jordan Handlin answered with back-to-back 3-pointers for the Rockets, who stayed in front thereafter.
“They were huge,” said Rochester coach J.R. Boudouris of Handlin’s 3s. “We knew in a game like this, points were going to be hard to come by.”
Handlin finished with a game-high 11 points while Lindsey Sapetti and Havilyn Dulin chipped in nine apiece. Handlin finished with three 3-pointers.
“Those were two big shots she hit,” said U High coach Laura Sellers of Handlin’s fourth-quarter bombs.
“We played each other twice and we know each other so well. I thought it was a battle to score both ways. Hopefully we gained a lot of experience (this season). Our (four) seniors will be missed.”