Competing like a player on a mission, Central junior Kendra Wilken stole the show again on Monday at the 29th annual Scott Credit Union Highland Girls Basketball Tournament.
The dominant post player in southern Illinois, Wilken scored 24 points and pulled down a tournament record 24 rebounds as Central held off the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes 47-44 in the quarterfinal round game at Highland High School.
Showing the talent, hustle and intense competitive spririt which has made her one of the premier players in the state, the 6-foot-2 DePaul University recruit played a full 32 minutes and added four blocked shots to her totals in one of the most complete efforts in recent tournament history.
“We knew they (Teutopolis) would come out and and play with tremenndous intensity and desire. We wanted to match that intensity and desire,” Wilken said. “I just wanted to do what I could to help my team win.”
The win lifts two-time defending tournament champion Central (21-1) into a semifinal game on Wednesday at 8 p.m. where the Cougars will take on crosstown rival Mater Dei.
Mater Dei advanced with a 53-47 win in over Salem in the second quarterfinal on Monday.
The victory over the Wooden Shoes is the second in eight days for Central which ran off to a 55-32 win on Jan. 10. It was also the Wooden Shows who ended the Cougars’ dreams of a state title a year ago with an upset win at the Class 2A Salem Super-Sectional.
The Wooden Shoes went on to place third in the Class 2A State Tournament.
Getting strong early play from Kaylee Schrand and Alicia Book, Central, ranked second in the Class 2A state poll, built leads of 14-7 after one quarter and 25-19 at halftime.
Wilken, diving and sprawling all over the Highland High School gymnasium floor to collect loose basketballs, added 12 points int he first half as she continued to set the town for her Cougars teammates.
But as veteran Central coach Nathan Rueter knew would happen, the Wooden Shoes (11-11) didn’t go away. Not at all. Teutopolis came to play.
“I told the girls before we went out that this would be a tough game. We had beaten them by 23 points 10 days ago. They had nothing to lose. They weren’t expected to come in here and win. There wasn’t any pressure on them. The pressure was on us and I thought we responded well,” Rueter said. “But this is the kind of game that you want to play. We need this type of competition for down the road.”
The Shoes cut the lead to three points late in the third quarter on a 3-point basket by sophomore Reagan Drees. But like she did all night, Wilken rose to the ocassion responded with a pair of offensive putbacks to give Central a 39-32 lead.
The Cougars would stretch their lead to 10 points in the fourth quarter. And while Teutopolis cut the lead to three points at the final buzzer, the final outcome was never in doubt in the final four minutes of the game.
“I was pleased with our effort. I just wish we would have made a few more shots. We missed some we normally don’t,” Wooden Shoes coach Laurie Thompson said. “It’s just tough when you have to spend so much energy trying to defend one player (Wilken). She’s a great player and you saw what she can do tonight.”
Drees led the Wooden Shoes with 13 points, all in the second half.
Mater Dei 53, Salem 47: Senior Olivia Theising scored 14 points and connected on the go-ahead shot — a 3-point basket with 2:50 remaining — as the Knights rallied for the quarterfinal round victory
Getting a game-high 19 points from junior Dearria Watson, Salem led by as many as nine points late in the third quarter, but getting big plays down the stretch from Theising,, Chloe Beckmann and Lauren Donnewald, Mater Dei (12-7) earneda date in the semifinals with city-rival Central.
“I thought both teams played well. It was a tough game,’’ Knights coach David Kohnen said. “We were in foul trouble and and we were able to have bsome kids come off the bench and make some plays for us.
Theising and Beckmann shared scoring honors for Mater Dei with 14 points each, while Lauren Donnewald added 12 points.
Hillsboro 68, Carlyle 44: The Hilltoppers had five players in double figures as they rolled past the Indians in consolation round play. Jaicie Halleman and Madi Ondrey led the way with 13 points each. Ashley Huels led Carlyle with 11 points.
Wesclin 52, Carlyle 38: Senior Zoe Christopher scored the 1,000th point of her career while senior Carrie Rakers scored 16 points and pulled down 20 rebounds as the Warriors moved on in consolation round play.
Junior guard Carly Haukapp added 15 points for Wesclin while Marta Durk paced O’Fallon with 13 points.