CHARLESTON — The Charleston girls basketball team went 2-0 to begin the 25th Annual Charleston Holiday Tournament, and Tri-County went 1-1 on Wednesday.
Lady Trojans roll to two wins Wednesday
Charleston girls basketball coach Jeff Miller said it felt like his team hadn’t played in 10 days, which they hadn’t, and it showed in the Lady Trojans opening game against Urbana.
Charleston still went on to win by 30 points, 67-37.
Miller felt better about the second game, though. He thought Charleston played much more like the team it’s capable of being against Pekin as the Lady Trojans rolled to a 71-42 victory.
“This morning we got off to a slow start. We recovered. The second game, I thought our intensity was a lot better,” Miller said. “Defensively, we did a pretty good job and did the little things that we need to improve on. I thought our second game was executed better. We always seem to give pretty good effort. It’s nice to go 2-0 in pool play and we will see what (Thursday) brings.”
Charleston jumped out to an early lead against Pekin on back-to-back traditional three-point plays. Shae Littleford scored on a layup and hit the free throw after the foul. Then Paige Swango drove in and was fouled. She made the layup and the following free throw to make it 8-2 in the first minute of the game.
Pekin made it 8-4, but that’s the closest the score was for the rest of the game. Charleston responded with a 6-0 run as Bernie Jackson had two buckets during it to put the Lady Trojans up 14-4.
Pekin got back-to-back layups by Maddy Cash to make it 14-7, but Charleston still had a decent lead going into the second quarter on Regan Bollant’s layup for a 19-10 advantage.
“I thought defensively, we turned some turnovers into transition points,” Miller said. “We only had 10 turnovers in the game, so I thought we did a really good job of taking care of the ball. We are averaging only 10 turnovers per game and that’s really good.”
Jackson hit a 3-pointer to start the onslaught in the second quarter for the Lady Trojans. The 3 started a 19-2 run for Charleston, which forced nine turnovers in the second quarter.
Pekin didn’t hit its first field goal until the 2:30 mark of the quarter and Charleston went into halftime with a 43-18 lead.
Jackson’s 3 was only one of two jumpers in the quarter for the Lady Trojans as they scored on layups and at the free-throw line during the 24-point second quarter.
“We told them in between quarters, we need to do a better job of getting to the rim,” Miller said. “We told them that this morning and we didn’t. But this we executed a lot better than we did this morning.”
Pekin scored 16 points in the third quarter, but Charleston came back with 25 points to take a 68-34 lead going into the fourth.
Swango and Littleford led Charleston with 17 points each. Jackson added 10 points, and Hannah Buescher and Bollant each had nine points.
“Paige scored 17 points and didn’t take a 3,” Miller said. “It’s just a different ball game for her and that’s good for her.”
Against Urbana, Charleston trailed 14-13 lead after the first quarter and then the Lady Trojans held the Tigers to five points in the second quarter to go up 34-19.
Then the Lady Trojans rolled in the second half for the 67-37 win.
“Second half, we picked it up,” Miller said.
Littleford had 23 points to lead the Lady Trojans and Swango had 18. She had four 3-pointers in the game. Jackson added eight points.
Charleston plays Rantoul at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday and then takes on Paris at 7:30 p.m.
Tri-County goes 1-1 on Wednesday
It was a bit of a mixed bag for the Tri-County girls basketball team during the first day of the Charleston Holiday Tournament. The Titans opened the day with a 50-20 win over Champaign Centennial, but they were given quite the test against a tough Effingham squad later in the day.
The Class 3A sixth-ranked Flaming Hearts beat Tri-County 64-37, and it was only the second loss of the season for the Titans, who are 14-2 overall.
Tri-County coach Joe Morrisey knew it was going to be a tough task for the Titans against Effingham but still thought his team could’ve played better.
“We like to run and press and do stuff like that and we never got into what we wanted to do,” Morrisey said. “Effingham is a strong team and physical – they rotated 10 good girls at every chance they had. We didn’t play the way we were capable of playing. We got beat, but we didn’t play like I thought we should play.”
Effingham might be the toughest team on Tri-County’s schedule this season, and Morrisey said it was good to see a ranked team that’s a couple of classes above the Titans.
“They have a girl inside who is pretty good and seven guards and all of them can shoot it and drive and put it in the basket,” Morrisey said. “It will help us down the road I think and make us stronger and realize what we are going to have to do against stronger, more physical teams.”
Harley Barry led Tri-County in the loss with 13 points, and Kiersten Price-Wilson added eight points.
The game against Centennial was never really in doubt. Tri-County jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter and the Titans went into halftime up 33-10.
Taylor Barry led Tri-County with 12 points, and Elizabeth Tomlinson added 10 points.
Still, Morrisey thought the team needed time to wake-up against Centennial, even in the 30-point win.
“We were sleepy in the first quarter. After we woke up, we played pretty well,” Morrisey said. “Again, we pressed and ran up and down the floor like we like to do.”
Even with the loss to Effingham, Tri-County is 14-2 on the season and was one of the first teams receiving votes in the Class 1A poll, so Morrisey likes the way his team has played so far this season.
“We are 14-2 and you want to win them all, but you aren’t going to win them all sometimes,” Morrisey said. “We played real well and have played hard and we are getting better every chance that we can.”
Tri-County plays Danville at 3 p.m. on Thursday at the tournament.