BLOOMINGTON — The Tremont High School girls basketball team didn't waver from its mission in the championship game of the 35th annual McLean County Tournament at Shirk Center on Saturday.
"As the girls say, we wanted to bring home the bacon," quipped Coach Justin Wahls after his team cooked up a 52-46 triumph over stubborn Tri-Valley.
The game had little resemblance to a 57-38 Tremont victory over the Vikings seven days earlier. Both coaches agreed Tri-Valley didn't play well last week, but the Turks still had too many weapons this week.
Wesley Woodard led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds while point guard Jill Runyon broke out of a scoring slump to provide 17 including four big free throws the final 1:34.
"This is such a good feeling," Runyon said. "My coaches told me I needed to start attacking the basket. I needed to play basketball the way I know how to play basketball."
The top-seeded Turks, runners-up the past two years to El Paso-Gridley, improved to 20-1 while notching their first title since joining the tournament field in 2007. Tri-Valley fell to 18-4 despite 18 points and six rebounds from Maddie Merritt.
"We've always gotten second (three times in five years to be exact)," Woodard said. "So to win finally feels really good. We've worked really hard. It's an awesome group to win with."
Wahls thought Woodard's 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to put Tremont up, 29-24, was awesome.
"She's a hidden gem," he said. "She's an all-around basketball player."
Tremont's other post presence, 6-foot-1 junior Lauren Hartman, nailed two 3-pointers the first 3:27 to help the Turks dominate the first quarter, 20-11. She finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. She had two blocks the final 31 seconds.
"They are a great ball team," said Tri-Valley coach George VanWinkle. "They've got so many weapons. We've got a few, but they've got more."
Tri-Valley got good results from a 1-3-1 zone after playing man-to-man last week. The strategy helped the Vikings force ties at 22 and 24 in the second quarter. Tremont scored the first four points of the second half to build its biggest lead at 33-24.
Tri-Valley went over nine minutes without a field goal in the second half, but still pulled within 44-41 with 2:44 left thanks to 10-of-13 free throw accuracy in that stretch. The Vikings finished 17 of 24 at the line as Lauren Wombles got five of her 11 points at the stripe and Chloe Nagle four of her nine points.
"They showed up tonight," Wahls said. "They were playing some very good basketball. They have great players. I"m glad we don't have to play them again (unless it's in the Class 2A Final Four)."
Woodard was excited for another opportunity to guard Merritt, who sank four 3-pointers and went 6 of 17 from the field overall.
"She's a good player so I knew I wasn't going to shut her down," Woodard said. "I just knew I needed to work hard and not get discouraged."
Tri-Valley fans drew encouragement from a Nagle 3-pointer and a Lauren O'Donnell jumper that pulled the Vikings within 48-46 with :56 left. Kennedy Dill and Runyon each sank two free throws the final :51 to end Tremont's worries.
LeRoy 43, Fieldcrest 41: No. 3 seed LeRoy (15-9) received 13 points from Courtney Monier to win the third-place game over No. 4 Fieldcrest (13-9) at Shirk Center.
Illinois State track recruit Tessa Holland scored 19 points for the Knights, who trailed at the quarter breaks, 13-12, 25-18 and 34-31.
Skielyr Trenkle sank 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range to add nine points for LeRoy, which also got nine points from Sammie Spencer.
EPG 53, Heyworth 50: In the fifth-place game at Colfax, Shelby Funk sank a 3-pointer from the top of the circle at the buzzer in overtime to make No. 8 seed El Paso-Gridley (9-16) a winner over No. 10 Heyworth (11-12).
Fulk finished with 11 points while freshman teammate Aubrey Staton notched game highs of 22 points and 17 rebounds. Staton's rebound basket as time expired in regulation knotted the score at 44.
Gina Moore had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Heyworth, which was outshot from the field, 39 percent to 38 percent. She forced a 50-50 tie with 57 seconds left in overtime. The teams traded turnovers before EPG called time with 4.4 seconds left to set up the winning shot.
Madie Sims added 10 points for the Hornets.
Lexington 52, Dee-Mack 46: No. 7 seed Lexington (13-6) outscored No. 9 Deer Creek-Mackinaw in overtime, 8-2, to secure the consolation championship at Colfax. Gabby Freed led the Minutemen with 23 points while Starr Baker added 13 and Lillie Walcott 10.
The Chiefs received 10 points from Mikayla Seibert.