Subscribe for 33¢ / day

NORMAL - The seemingly boundless energy of the high-flying Flanagan High School girls basketball team proved finite after all Saturday.

Faced with the short turnaround time of playing in the second semifinal, the Falcons stayed with No. 12-ranked Carthage for three quarters of the third-place game before the wheels fell off in a 73-57 defeat.

Flanagan thus ended its best season in school history at 29-5 while Carthage finished 27-8. The fourth-place Falcons will be honored at a 1 p.m. reception today in the Flanagan High School gym.

"Carthage is an outstanding team," said Flanagan coach Jeff Sprouse. "For three quarters, it was a very good game. We finally ran out of steam. They shot the lights out. I couldn't be any prouder of these girls."

Flanagan fell into the third-place game after a rugged 45-43 semifinal loss to No. 4-ranked Okawville, which saw Tiffany Blumhorst sink five 3-pointers en route to 20 points. Carthage lost its semifinal with No. 3 Hillsboro, 50-33.

Flanagan-Carthage

Carthage burned the Falcons' sagging zone with 9 of 27 shooting from 3-point range.

"Everybody had the green light," said first-year Coach Zach Keene. "We had a good game tonight."

Both teams played an up-tempo style.

"It was very entertaining basketball," Keene said.

McKensey Long paced the Bluegirls with 26 points, 14 of which came in the first half. She also had nine assists.

Brittany Leonard powered Flanagan with 17 points and six assists, but committed 12 of her team's 23 turnovers. Carthage had just 12 turnovers against the Falcons' full-court press.

Southern Illinois volleyball recruit Kelsie Laughlin added 15 points and eight rebounds for Flanagan, which shot 51.2 percent from the field.

"I would take 50 percent every night," Sprouse said. "We had some things go against us."

The Falcons fell behind, 15-10, before mounting an 8-0 run on their way to an 18-16 first-quarter advantage. Leonard scored six points in the period.

"It is very competitive when we see a team that uses the same style," Leonard said.

Flanagan kept the momentum with a 6-0 run to open the second quarter, but Carthage rallied to take a 36-35 halftime lead despite the Falcons shooting 56.5 percent from the field.

"We knew if we wanted third we had to work hard until the end," Long said. "Flanagan was a great ballclub. They did run the same transition game and offense we did. We were able to keep pressure on the ball and play defense."

The lead changed hands 11 times overall and four times in the third quarter before a 5-0 spurt put Carthage in control. The Bluegirls took a 55-47 lead into the final period.

A fastbreak layup by Anna Jones and a Kelsie Laughlin 3-pointer pulled Flanagan within 55-52 with 6:24 left. Carthage answered by sandwiching 3-pointers by Long and Brianne Guymon around a conventional three-point play by Long to go up 64-52.

"Great teams make great shots," said Sprouse, whose team never got within 10 the rest of the way.

The Falcons held Carthage to 39.4 percent shooting, but the Bluegirls took 23 more shots than Flanagan, which was outrebounded, 33-30.

Caitlin Wear had 16 points and Guymon 10 for Carthage, which outscored Flanagan on second-chance points, 17-6.

Okawville-Flanagan

"They are a great shooting team," said Sprouse, who watched Okawville sink seven 3-pointers. "You have to pick your poison with a great team and we chose to try to stop them inside."

Blumhorst proved toxic, draining 5 of 10 3-point attempts to go with 5 of 7 free throws. Her 20 points were 13 above her average.

Blumhorst's biggest basket was a 3-pointer to give her team a 42-41 lead with 3:00 left. Her two free throws made it 44-41 at the 1:01 mark. Another Blomhorst free throw with :10 to go pushed it to 45-41. Flanagan's only basket the final 4:06 was a put-back by Leonard at the buzzer.

Leonard finished with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Kelsie Laughlin added eight points and nine rebounds while Megan Laughlin and Anna Jones had six points apiece.

"I thought Flanagan was extremely well-coached," said Okawville coach Kathy Lanter. "I was impressed with their big girls (the Laughlins) and that point guard (Leonard) is fantastic."

Flanagan hustled to leads of 11-6, 26-22 and 39-34, but Okawville made the most of a 14-6 advantage in second-chance points. The Lady Rockets gained a 34-28 advantage on the boards with help from 6-1 senior Jill Wolf's 13 rebounds.

Six-foot Okawville junior Kelly Albers added 10 points and 12 rebounds.

"They have tremendous physicality," Sprouse said. "They have big, big girls. I thought our interior defense was outstanding."

Okawville was outshot from the field, 37.5 percent to 32.6 percent, and got the worst of a 17-12 difference in turnovers.

"I really think the key was they go up by four points (at 41-37) and we stay poised," Lanter said.

Hillsboro-Carthage

Maria Pretnar helped Hillsboro punch its ticket for the championship game by providing 19 points and 15 rebounds. Teammate Hope Schulte added 16 points.

"It's tough to come back on us," said Hillsboro coach Bret Tuetken, whose team never trailed after Sarah Puckett's 3-pointer gave it a 7-4 lead in the first quarter.

Hillsboro held Carthage to 22.4 percent field goal shooting and outrebounded the Bluegirls, 41-34. Carthage's top scorers were Guymon and Long with six points apiece.

"We didn't quite play Bluegirl basketball," said Keene, whose team had not lost by more than seven points until Saturday. "We had a tough time with their post (Pretnar). That was a turning point in the game. We couldn't get anything going from the outside or the inside today."

3-Point Showdown

As soon as Pretnar's semifinal heroics for Hillsboro were over, she returned to the court to win the Country Insurance Class A 3-Point Showndown, making 10 of 15 attempts. Tying for second with nine each were Carrollton's Dana Schnettgoecke and Plano's Katie Cooper. Macomb's Jaclyn Lucas took fourth with six.

"It was really fun," said Pretnar, who shot last and had a big advantage in number of fans. "The crowd helped a lot."

IBCA all-state teams

Flanagan's Brittany Leonard was named to the 10-player Illinois Basketball Coaches Association all-state first team. Teammate Megan Laughlin was named to the third team.

Three other Pantagraph area players named to the 21-player third team were CPCI's Heidi McKean, Central Catholic's Stacey Miller and LeRoy's Sam Poppe.

Among the 39 players receiving special mention were El Paso-Gridley's Amanda Kowalski, Fisher's Jessi Beachey, Ridgeview's Mackenzie Roth, Dwight's Kelli Humbert and Central Catholic's Amanda Murray.

Rounding out the first team were Carthage's McKensey Long, Hillsboro's Hope Schulte, Spring Valley Hall's Kailey Klein, Okawville's Jill Wolf, Massac County's Josha Rogers, Sterling Newman's Jocelyn Mellen, Olney East Richland's Brittany Johnson, Hamilton County's Abby Rankin and Paris' Emily Magert.

By Randy Sharer

NORMAL - The seemingly boundless energy of the high-flying Flanagan High School girls basketball team proved finite after all Saturday.

Faced with the short turnaround time of playing in the second semifinal, the Falcons stayed with No. 12-ranked Carthage for three quarters of the third-place game before the wheels fell off in a 73-57 defeat.

Flanagan thus ended its best season in school history at 29-5 while Carthage finished 27-8. The fourth-place Falcons will be honored at a 1 p.m. reception today in the Flanagan High School gym.

"Carthage is an outstanding team," said Flanagan coach Jeff Sprouse. "For three quarters, it was a very good game. We finally ran out of steam. They shot the lights out. I couldn't be any prouder of these girls."

Flanagan fell into the third-place game after a rugged 45-43 semifinal loss to No. 4-ranked Okawville, which saw Tiffany Blumhorst sink five 3-pointers en route to 20 points. Carthage lost its semifinal with No. 3 Hillsboro, 50-33.

Flanagan-Carthage

Carthage burned the Falcons' sagging zone with 9 of 27 shooting from 3-point range.

"Everybody had the green light," said first-year Coach Zach Keene. "We had a good game tonight."

Both teams played an up-tempo style.

"It was very entertaining basketball," Keene said.

McKensey Long paced the Bluegirls with 26 points, 14 of which came in the first half. She also had nine assists.

Brittany Leonard powered Flanagan with 17 points and six assists, but committed 12 of her team's 23 turnovers. Carthage had just 12 turnovers against the Falcons' full-court press.

Southern Illinois volleyball recruit Kelsie Laughlin added 15 points and eight rebounds for Flanagan, which shot 51.2 percent from the field.

"I would take 50 percent every night," Sprouse said. "We had some things go against us."

The Falcons fell behind, 15-10, before mounting an 8-0 run on their way to an 18-16 first-quarter advantage. Leonard scored six points in the period.

"It is very competitive when we see a team that uses the same style," Leonard said.

Flanagan kept the momentum with a 6-0 run to open the second quarter, but Carthage rallied to take a 36-35 halftime lead despite the Falcons shooting 56.5 percent from the field.

"We knew if we wanted third we had to work hard until the end," Long said. "Flanagan was a great ballclub. They did run the same transition game and offense we did. We were able to keep pressure on the ball and play defense."

The lead changed hands 11 times overall and four times in the third quarter before a 5-0 spurt put Carthage in control. The Bluegirls took a 55-47 lead into the final period.

A fastbreak layup by Anna Jones and a Kelsie Laughlin 3-pointer pulled Flanagan within 55-52 with 6:24 left. Carthage answered by sandwiching 3-pointers by Long and Brianne Guymon around a conventional three-point play by Long to go up 64-52.

"Great teams make great shots," said Sprouse, whose team never got within 10 the rest of the way.

The Falcons held Carthage to 39.4 percent shooting, but the Bluegirls took 23 more shots than Flanagan, which was outrebounded, 33-30.

Caitlin Wear had 16 points and Guymon 10 for Carthage, which outscored Flanagan on second-chance points, 17-6.

Okawville-Flanagan

"They are a great shooting team," said Sprouse, who watched Okawville sink seven 3-pointers. "You have to pick your poison with a great team and we chose to try to stop them inside."

Blumhorst proved toxic, draining 5 of 10 3-point attempts to go with 5 of 7 free throws. Her 20 points were 13 above her average.

Blumhorst's biggest basket was a 3-pointer to give her team a 42-41 lead with 3:00 left. Her two free throws made it 44-41 at the 1:01 mark. Another Blomhorst free throw with :10 to go pushed it to 45-41. Flanagan's only basket the final 4:06 was a put-back by Leonard at the buzzer.

Leonard finished with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Kelsie Laughlin added eight points and nine rebounds while Megan Laughlin and Anna Jones had six points apiece.

"I thought Flanagan was extremely well-coached," said Okawville coach Kathy Lanter. "I was impressed with their big girls (the Laughlins) and that point guard (Leonard) is fantastic."

Flanagan hustled to leads of 11-6, 26-22 and 39-34, but Okawville made the most of a 14-6 advantage in second-chance points. The Lady Rockets gained a 34-28 advantage on the boards with help from 6-1 senior Jill Wolf's 13 rebounds.

Six-foot Okawville junior Kelly Albers added 10 points and 12 rebounds.

"They have tremendous physicality," Sprouse said. "They have big, big girls. I thought our interior defense was outstanding."

Okawville was outshot from the field, 37.5 percent to 32.6 percent, and got the worst of a 17-12 difference in turnovers.

"I really think the key was they go up by four points (at 41-37) and we stay poised," Lanter said.

Hillsboro-Carthage

Maria Pretnar helped Hillsboro punch its ticket for the championship game by providing 19 points and 15 rebounds. Teammate Hope Schulte added 16 points.

"It's tough to come back on us," said Hillsboro coach Bret Tuetken, whose team never trailed after Sarah Puckett's 3-pointer gave it a 7-4 lead in the first quarter.

Hillsboro held Carthage to 22.4 percent field goal shooting and outrebounded the Bluegirls, 41-34. Carthage's top scorers were Guymon and Long with six points apiece.

"We didn't quite play Bluegirl basketball," said Keene, whose team had not lost by more than seven points until Saturday. "We had a tough time with their post (Pretnar). That was a turning point in the game. We couldn't get anything going from the outside or the inside today."

3-Point Showdown

As soon as Pretnar's semifinal heroics for Hillsboro were over, she returned to the court to win the Country Insurance Class A 3-Point Showndown, making 10 of 15 attempts. Tying for second with nine each were Carrollton's Dana Schnettgoecke and Plano's Katie Cooper. Macomb's Jaclyn Lucas took fourth with six.

"It was really fun," said Pretnar, who shot last and had a big advantage in number of fans. "The crowd helped a lot."

IBCA all-state teams

Flanagan's Brittany Leonard was named to the 10-player Illinois Basketball Coaches Association all-state first team. Teammate Megan Laughlin was named to the third team.

Three other Pantagraph area players named to the 21-player third team were CPCI's Heidi McKean, Central Catholic's Stacey Miller and LeRoy's Sam Poppe.

Among the 39 players receiving special mention were El Paso-Gridley's Amanda Kowalski, Fisher's Jessi Beachey, Ridgeview's Mackenzie Roth, Dwight's Kelli Humbert and Central Catholic's Amanda Murray.

Rounding out the first team were Carthage's McKensey Long, Hillsboro's Hope Schulte, Spring Valley Hall's Kailey Klein, Okawville's Jill Wolf, Massac County's Josha Rogers, Sterling Newman's Jocelyn Mellen, Olney East Richland's Brittany Johnson, Hamilton County's Abby Rankin and Paris' Emily Magert.

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments