BLOOMINGTON — Tremont High School’s full deck of aces inside and out left the Fieldcrest girls short-handed during a 55-45 Turk victory in the McLean County Tournament semifinals at Shirk Center on Thursday.
“They are talented, quick and strong,” said Fieldcrest coach Ron Kreiser, whose team handed over the McLean County Traveling Trophy to Tremont. “They just did a great job.”
The job of scoring was handled with aplomb by Michalah Rumbold, Wesley Woodard and Lauren Hartman, who finished with 15, 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The top-seeded Turks (19-1) will face No. 2-seeded Tri-Valley (18-3) in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. final at Shirk Center. The Vikings held off LeRoy, 41-34, behind 18 points from Maddie Merritt, who sank 12 of 14 free throws.
No. 3 seed LeRoy (14-9) will meet No. 4 Fieldcrest (13-8) in Saturday’s 1 p.m. third-place game at Shirk Center.
Tremont coach Justin Wahls wanted to slow Illinois State track recruit Tessa Holland, but the 1,000-point club member still managed 18 points and eight rebounds.
“She’s fast,” Wahls said. “She can jump. She’s a complete athlete. She had a very good game.”
The teammate giving Holland the most help was Gwen Lohr-Fandel with 12 points.
“I thought we turned the ball over way too many times,” said Kreiser after the Knights committed 19 turnovers to 12 for Tremont.
The Turks outshot Fieldcrest, 53 percent to 39 percent, but lost the rebound battle, 31-19.
“We had a couple times where we got lazy on defense,” said Hartman, a 6-foot-1 junior. “But we stepped up on offense and hit our shots.”
Hot shooting and eight points from Woodard helped the Turks build a 19-9 lead. Holland sandwiched a putback and a steal-layup combo around a basket by Lohr-Fandel to bring Fieldcrest within 19-15.
A pair of Stephanie Williams hoops during a 10-6 run helped Tremont take a 29-21 lead into intermission. The Turks built an 18-point lead in the third quarter and Fieldcrest never shrank it below eight the rest of the way.
Tri-Valley vs. LeRoy
Tri-Valley was sitting on a precarious 33-30 lead when Chloe Nagle drilled a 3-pointer to create six points of precious breathing room with 3:05 left. She and Merritt combined to make 5 of 6 free throws the final 1:35 to clinch it.
“I think that was a dagger in the heart,” said Tri-Valley coach George VanWinkle of Nagle’s bomb, which was part of a seven-point night for her. “She’s been sick. That’s the reason we sat in that 2-3 (zone) all night.”
VanWinkle didn’t really want to use a zone.
“We watched them the other night and they didn’t shoot it very well from outside the paint so we thought, ‘If you’re going to beat us, you’re going to beat us out there,’” he said.
That zone held LeRoy to 30 percent field goal shooting.
“If we continue to shoot 30 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free throw line, we’re not going to win many more,” said LeRoy coach Danielle Cooley. “I thought they had some girls that we haven’t seen score, step up and hit big shots.”
Among them was Lauren O’Donnell, who had eight points. Courtney Monier led LeRoy with 10 points while Sammie Spencer added nine.
LeRoy built a 7-6 lead after one quarter. Merritt sandwiched a putback and a three-point play around a 15-footer from O’Donnell during a 7-0 Tri-Valley run in the second quarter that ended with the Vikings on top, 18-15. Tri-Valley took a 31-27 advantage into the final period.