INA — The Southwestern Illinois College Blue Storm made sure the glass slipper of the Cinderella team -- Shawnee College Saints -- didn't fit on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Region 24 Women's Basketball Tournament.
All-American Janelle Cannon connected on nine 3-point shots and scored 37 points as the top-seeded Blue Storm rolled to a 93-28 first round win at Rend Lake College.
Still flying high after a huge last-second win over Lincoln Trail College on Monday, the eighth-seeded Saints (7-23) led 3-2 in the opening minute following a 3-point basket by Destiny Dillow.
But when Danielle Duncan banged home a 12-foot jumper and LaTeesha Deloach followed with a 3-point jumper 15 seconds apart, the Blue Storm (23-5) was off and rolling.
Shawnee didn't score again until 11:04 remained in the opening half. By that time, SWIC led 25-5 and was well on its way to the lopsided win.
"I was a little concerned. We had beaten them (Shawnee) twice in the regular season and they were coming in off a last second win thinking maybe they had a chance. Five minutes into the game we're up 17-3," SWIC coach Mike Juenger said. "We came out and played well early. And we shot the ball very well.''
With Cannon scoring 18 of her points and eight Blue Storm players adding at least two points, SWIC built a 54-11 halftime lead and never looked back in advancing into the semifinals at noon on Thursday. SWIC will take on either fourth-seed Olney Central or No.5 seed and host Rend Lake with the winner earning a bid to the NJCAA National Tournament.
The NJCAA Division I national finals will be held March 13-18 in Salina, Kan.
In this game, the Blue Storm had its high-powered offense working from the start.
Despite playing without Adrianna McNeal (illness), the Blue Storm got solid play on the post from Breanna Baker and Sorriyah Ranger and continued production from the perimeter as Cannon, Deloach and Duncan combined for 13 3-point baskets and 55 points.
Cannon, a Louisville recruit, simply put on a show in the second half as she drained five 3-point baskets -- including four straight in a three-minute span.
"She can shoot it. Janelle is just so much fun to watch,'' Juenger said. "She would have had 45 today if I would have left her in the game. I just couldn't take any chances.''
Baker and Duncan added 10 points each, while Deloach and Ranger and Mone'y Black chipped in with nine points each.
Juenger was unsure if McNeal -- an agile 5-foot-11 forward -- would be available to play on Thursday. Even so, the Blue Storm must continue to rebound.
"That's our key. Kids like Bre (Baker), Sorriyah, Mone'y, they've got do the job for us on the offensive and defensive boards,'' Juenger said. "The thing that concerns me is that we may start slowly on Thursday because we might think its going to be easy. Both Olney (Central) and Rend Lake are good teams and they're going to be out for us.
''We need one more. The kids know what's at stake and I think we'll come out on Thursday and play our best game of the year. Games like this are why you play. They're what you work for all year. We'll be ready.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com