JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
Beecher City--In what could have been the championship game of the NTC girls basketball tournament, #1 seed CHBC survived a challenge from #5 seed Dieterich, 47-38.
Dieterich had beaten #2-seed St. Anthony by two points prior to the tourney, but Dieterich was ranked as a #5 seed.
"I think we were seeded based on what we did last year," said CHBC coach Carolyn Wendte. But, Dieterich has everyone back."
Coach Wendte expected the game would be the best challenge they would get. It was a challenge.
Senior Candace Niemerg and senior Micah Jones would battle each other in the game and Jones finally got the better of it in crunch time and tipped the scales in the Hornets' favor.
Dieterich led by two after the 1st period built a 10-point lead in the 2nd quarter and led by five at the half, 29-24. Jones got the oprning tip so strong and it sailed out the end line.
CHBC's half-court defense got a quick turnover and Autumn Riley set up in the post for CHBC and gave Jones a nifty interior pass at the rim for a 2-0 lead. However, the Hornet match up defense left Niemerg too free. She scored 21 of the Maroons 1st half points. Jones scored 18 of CHBC's 24 1st half points.
Dieterich led 4-2 before Riley scored in transition and got the foul. She converted the 3-point play and CHBC led 5-4. It would be their last lead until midway through the 3rd quarter.
Niemerg hit a 3 and then Jones scored from the high post for a 7-7 tie. Niemerg scored again and Jones got her own put back for a 9-9 tie. Jones fouled Niemerg in the pot and she drained both shots for an 11-9 lead after one.
Dieterich continued what would be an 8-0 run in the first minute of the 2nd period. Then Jones led a 15-10 run and cut the 10-point defecit in half by the break.
Jones stole the ball and scored. Niemerg scored and then made two free throws for a 21-11 lead. Riley split a pair of free throws and Jones hit a step in jumper from the wing. Niemerg missed and Jones took the rebound coast to coast, 21-16.
Niemerg put Dieterich up seven, 25-18, but Kacie Hilt had a Hornet put back and Jones banked a shot straight on from the key, 25-22. Jones had a put back, 27-24. But Niemerg finished the half with a baby hook, 29-24.
Coach Wendte changed the defense when CHBC came out for the 2nd half and it changed everything. She went with a box and 1 with Jones on Niemerg. Niemerg didn't get a shot for the first 4:00 of the 3rd period. During that time, CHBC went on an 8-2 run to claim a 32-31 lead.
Niemerg beat Jones on a quick first step move to the basket for a 33-32 Maroon lead. But Niemerg woudn't score again. CHBC was cooking and they finished the game with a 15-5 run. Riley scored on a drive for a 34-33 Hornet lead. Jones took a Niemerg miss and brought it back for the bucket and the foul, making the free throw, 37-33.
Riley had a step-in floater, 39-33. Riley did it again, was hooked, but no foul was called. Jones had a put back for an 8-point lead, 41-33. The Maroons cut the CHBC lead to three points, 41-38.
Jones stole the ball and scored again and then dished to Riley inside for two. Paruleski iced the game with two free throws, 47-38. Hilt had two steals in a row. CHBC had the ball the final 45 seconds and stalled the game to the final buzzer.
Defense was key in the game. Dieterich played some stiff defense all game. It was hard for anyone else to score besides Niemerg and Jones. But, when the Hornets changed up their defense on Dieterich's #1 scorer, they got the win.
"We are searching right now for someone to step up nightly," Coach Wendte said. "I have players that can score, but can't play defense and players that can play defense, but can't score. It's the lack of experience at the varsity level. We need more kids to score. Right now we can't defend under 40 points and we have to."
Niemerg finished with 23 points, 9 field goals, including one trey and 4-of-4 at the line. Jones finished with 27 points, scoring 13 times from the floor and making 1-of-1 at the line. Riley followed Jones in double figures with 10 points, four scores and 2-of-3 at the line.
"Autumn is gaining confidence to go to the bucket," Coach Wendte said. "Micah is working with her on some things."
Taylor Wright followed Niemerg with eight points. CHBC senior Ava Paruleski scored six points.
"Ava is still sick, " Coach Wendte said. "She is pushing it to the limit, playing point guard."
CHBC plays in the title game Saturday at 1 p.m. against the winner of the late Friday night semifinal between St. Anthony and Neoga.
CHBC 47, Dieterich 38
CHBC stats: Jones 27 (13 FGs, 1/1 FTs), Riley 10 (4 FGs, 2/3 FTs), Paruleski 6 (FG, 4/4 FTs), Jensyn Morrison 2 (2/2 FTs), Hilt 2 (FG, 0/1 FTs). Team FGs 19. Team FTs 9-of-11.
Dieterich stats: Niemerg 23 (8-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 4/4 FTs), Wright 8 (4 FGs, Sydney Higgs 5 (2 FGs, 1/1 FTs), Courtney Flat 2 (FG). Team FGs 16. 3-pointers: 1 (Niemerg). Team FTs 5-of-5.