After solid efforts at the Scott Credit Union Highland Girls Basketball Tournament last week, it’s back to the business at hand — trying to win a Mississippi Valley Conference championship — for the Highland Bulldogs and Triad Knights.
Ranked 10th and 11th respectively in the Class 3A state poll, Highland (19-4) and Triad (17-3) are in a dead heat with 6-1 marks in the MVC. Each team has three league games remaining.
Highland, which saw its 14-game winning streak snapped with a second-round loss to Belleville West last week, bounced back to defeat Class 2A state-ranked Hillsboro, then defeated a much-improved Althoff squad 52-40 in the fifth place game.
“It wasn’t the game we wanted to be playing in but I was pleased at how we were able to come back and beat a good Hillsboro team and then Althoff,” Highland coach Mike Arbuthnot said. “I thought Rece (Portell) came in and gave us a lift and we were able to play some of the other kids who maybe don’t usually get a chance to playa s much as they would like.
“The good thing is that we were able to play four games againast quality opponents. It gave us a chance to see what we need to work on heading into the postseason.”
Triad, coming off an emotional loss to Central in the semifinals, got a last-second shot from senior Sophie Thompson to edge Belleville West in the third-place game.
Highland will play at Jerseyville (Feb. 4) and will host Waterloo (Feb. 8) and Mascoutah (Feb. 11).
Triad faces a major test on Feb. 4, when it hosts a surging Civic Memorial squad and its high scoring junior all-stater Allie Troeckler. Triad plays host to Jerseyville on Feb. 8 before traveling to Waterloo on Feb.11.
Edwardsville romps at Carbondale
Led by tournament most valuable player Makenzie Silvey, the Edwardsville Tigers made the most of their week by winning the Carbondale Invitational last week with three lopsided wins.
Ranked third in the Class 4A state poll, Edwardsville (20-1) rolled past Mount Vernon (70-28), Carterville (76-42) and Carbondale (76-42).
Silvey averaged 19 points in the Tigers three wins.
Class 1A-2A Seeds to be announced
Class 1A and Class 2A seeds for the upcoming postseason are scheduled to be released by the Illinois High School Association on Thursday afternoon. Lebanon, Okawville and New Athens figure to earn top four seeds in Class 1A, while Central and Nashville are expected to be among the top seeds in Class 2A
In Class 1A, most of the local Class 1A schools will be in Sub-Sectional A of the White Hall (North Greene) Sectional.
Lebanon (19-1), ranked in the top 10 in the Class 1A state poll all season, looks to be the frontrunner for the top seed, while Okawville (15-8) may have an edge over New Athens (18-4) and Christ our Rock Lutheran for the No. 2 seed.
Okawville, whose schedule includes many Class 2A and Class 3A schools, handed Lebanon its only loss of the season and on Tuesday, and the Lady Rockets earlier defeated New Athens 59-47.
New Athens, which has also been ranked in the Class 1A state poll this season, has lost three times to Lebanon.
Class 1A state power Hardin-Calhoun should be the top seed in Sub-Sectional B.
In Class 2A, Central, ranked first in the Class 2A state poll and the state tournament runnerup a year ago, will be the top seed in Sub-Sectional A of the Campbell Hill (Trico) Sectional.
Led by all-state center and St. Louis University recruit Kendra Wilken, the Cougars (21-3) won the Scott Credit Union Highland Girls Basketball Tournament last weekend. The Cougars’ three losses came against (Class 4A) O’Fallon and (Class 3A) Highland (twice)
Nashville, under first-year coach Doug Althoff, is 15-7 and could be in the running for the No. 2 seed while Mater Dei (11-10) may also be considered a top-four seed. The Knights have played a tough schedule including games against Central, Hardin-Calhoun and several of the area’s top Class 3A and 4A schools.
Althoff (7-16) will be a dangerous team for any of the top programs to play. The Crusaders are one of the most-improved teams in the area since the beginning of the season and have one of the top Class 2A individuals in high scoring junior Kyleigh Vaught.
The Class 3A-4A seeds will be released on Feb. 4.
Lebanon headed towards showdown
The Lebanon Greyhounds (19-1) kept rolling along earlier this week with a first round win over Marquette (63-33) in the first round of the Carrollton Tournament and will play Class 3A Jerseyville in the event on Thursday.
A win could set up a showdown with Class 1A state power Hardin Calhoun in the title game; that could be a preview of the Class 1A sectional title game next month.
Scott Credit Union Highland all-tournament team
The most valuable player in the 30th annual event held at Highland High School this week, Central’s Kendra Wilken headlines the 30th annual Scott Credit Union Highland Girls Basketball Tournament Team. The squad was announced following the title game on Saturday.
Also chosen to the first team were Amanda Ponce of Highland, Sophie Thompson of Triad, Erika Harvey of Belleville West and Dearria Watson of Salem.
Second team selections were Kyleigh Vaught of Althoff, Abby Burroughs of Triad, Grace Yaunches of Central, Maddi Hood of Salem and Shelby Thompson of Teutopolis.
News-Democrat girls polls
Rankings for metro-east teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff. First-place votes are in parentheses; records through last week’s action.
Large school rankings (Class 5A-8A)
Also receiving votes: O’Fallon (13-8), Civic Memorial (14-8), East St. Louis (7-8), Mascoutah (12-10), Collinsville (9-11), Jerseyville (11-8), Waterloo (9-10), Columbia (12-9)
Small school rankings (Class 1A-4A)
Also receiving votes: Mater Dei (11-10), Dupo (12-8), Althoff (7-16), Red Bud (9-12), Metro East Lutherab (8-8), Marquette (9-13), Wesclin (9-13).