Minutes after watching his Nashville squad drop a 46-21 decision to Belleville West on Tuesday, Hornettes coach Wayne Harre just shook his head.
There wasn’t much else he could do. Not after watching West seniors Imani Berry and Shay Fluker combine for 37 points as the Maroons breezed into the semifinals with the overwhelming win over short-handed Nashville at the Scott Credit Union Highland Girls Basketball Tournament.
“It is what it is,’’Harre said. “West is so athletic and quick and we’re so young. I thought we played hard and I liked our effort, but when you are playing young kids and they’re learning on the fly, it’s a tough situation.’’
Using its athleticism and speed, West spotted Nashville an early 2-0 lead on a basket by senior all-state guard Jordi Harre, then ran off the next 22 points. Berry scored eight points and Fluker chipped in with six while junior guard Erika Harvey added a 3-point basket as West (16-4) led 17-2 after one quarter..
With Fluker hitting two of the Maroons four 3-point baskets in the second period, the lead grew to 31-8 at halftime.
“We started off a little slow. I think we missed our first three or four shots. Nashville plays such good defense, but I told the girls that if were patient that we would get some open looks. All we had to do was relax and make them,” Maroons coach Clayton Fisher said. “Before the game, I told Wayne (Harre) how enjoyable it had been coaching against his teams all these years. I know they’re young and are battling injuries right now. But I’m always nervous when we play them, because on any given night night, they can come up and beat you.’’
Not on this night, and especially after Jordi Harre suffered an injury to her foot following a scramble underneath the Hornettes basket late in the first quarter. Harre limped off the court and did not return.
“The foot had been bothering her anyway and I think when she landed her big toe got bent all the way back. It was very painful,” Wayne Harre said of the injury to his daughter. It was swollen pretty good. We’ll find out more later.”
Fluker led West with 19 points, while Berry added 18. Harvey scored the Maroons’ other nine points on three 3-point field goals. The win is the 10th in 11 games for West, which will battle host Highland in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Top-seeded Central will play Mater Dei in the other semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Highland 63, Taylorville 50: The second-seeded Bulldogs used a 13-0 scoring spurt midway through the fourth quarter to break the game open as they moved into the semifinal with the win over the Tornadoes.
Forced into a faster pace then normal by an athletic Taylorville squad, which forced 16 turnovers in the first two quarters, the Bulldogs (20-1) trailed 29-27 at halftime and led just 42-38 after three quarters.
That lead dwindled to a single point when Taylorville senior Grace Bollinger hit a 3-point shot to open the fourth period. But Bulldogs sophomore Madison Wellen then took the game over.
A 5-6 guard, Wellen hit a 3-point shot then added two free throws with 5:30 left to put Highland (20-1) up 47-41. Senior Bailey Leitschuh then added two free throws and following a Tornadoes turnover, Wellen nailed another 3-point shot to put her team up 52-41 with 4:28 left in the game.
Senior MacKenzie Kleinmann then scored on an inside move and with just over four minutes left, Highland was in control with a 54-41 lead.
Wellen, who scored a career-high 16 points a week ago, did it again on Tuesday, finishing with 22 points.
“Madison played well and made some big plays for in that fourth quarter,’’ Bulldogs coach Mike Arbuthnot said. “Taylorville is a good ballclub and really they are the first ones all year to speed up the game on us.
“We didn’t really change much at halftime. We just made some adjustments in what we were doing and I thought the girls responded very well.’’
Amanda Ponce added 14 points for Highland, while Bollinger (15 points) and Kalley Talley (14) led Taylorville.
In consolation bracket play: Triad 50, Nokomis 36: Sophie Thompson scored 22 points and 6-1 junior Abby Burroughs added 15 as the Knights rolled past the Lady Redskins.
Nokomis senior Ashley Schneider led all scorers with 27 points.
Althoff 48, Okawville 45: Sophomores Kyleigh Vaught and Maggie Riemer came to the rescue as Althoff held off Okawville in a consolation round game.
Vaught led Althoff with 15 points, while Riemer added 12. Freshman Madelyn Tepe paced Okawville with 16 points.