With Lebanon facing its largest deficit of the season Thursday, coach Chad Cruthis wasn’t going to stop senior Madison Schoenfeld from returning to the game against Okawville.
Injured knee or no injured knee.
Schoenfeld’s return provided an emotional lift, and junior Emily Reinneck scored 11 of her 18 points in the second half as the Greyhounds remained undefeated with a 38-31 road win over the Rockets.
The 6-foot-1 Schoenfeld reinjured her knee midway through the first quarter and limped to the bench. Her absence allowed Okawville to take a 23-16 lead into halftime on the back of Rockets senior Madelyn Tepe’s 12 points. She had 15 for the game.
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The lead grew to 26-18 when Rockets senior Casean Tebbe made a 3-pointer early in the third quarter. But when Schoenfeld returned with 6:43 left in third quarter, it gave the Greyhounds (17-0) a lift and the momentum.
“My knee was really hurting. But I was going back in the game no matter what,” Schoenfeld said.
With Abigail Reinneck and Emily Reinneck hitting 3-point shots and senior all-state guard Kendra Bass scoring six of her 11 points, Lebanon outscored Okawville 10-0 to end the quarter with a 28-26 lead. The Greyhounds would not trail again.
“She hurt the knee last week at our Christmas Tournament and she sees gets it looked at tomorrow. We’re hoping for the best,” Greyhounds coach Chad Cruthis said. “Madison wanting to come back in the game one of the most gutsy things I’ve seen from a girl ... or boy basketball player in a long time.”
Emily Reinneck connected on a pair of 3-point shots early in the fourth quarter to extend the Greyhounds’ scoring run to 18-2 as the lead grew to 36-28.
With Okawville unable to sustain any offense and the Greyhounds turning up the defensive pressure, Lebanon scored the win and virtually wrapped up the top seed when the Class 1A postseason pairings are released in a couple of weeks.
“It was really the first time our girls had faced that kind of deficit all year. We responded well,” Cruthis said. “The difference was defense, defense, defense. I thought we got a little tentative in the second quarter there. We hit some shots and were able to put some pressure them. What Madison does is she allows our other girls to be more aggressive on the defensive end of the floor. The girls know that even if their girl gets behind them, that we have Madison near the basket.
Playing in the sectional final was the last thing on Okawville coach Michelle Hasheider-Burianek’s mind following the loss Thursday. Despite playing on their home floor, the Rockets struggled on the offensive end all night.
“I thought we came out and played well early. But we missed so many two-footers ... layups,” Hasheider-Burianek said.”We still have a lot of work to do. But you have to be able to make layups.”
Okawville senior all-stater Madison Hackstadt, out with a knee injury since the opening minute of the season-opener, said Thursday that she hopes to be back in time for the Highland Tournament, which begins later in January.