Carterville’s chaotic zone defense was too much for Mater Dei to handle as the Knights fell 43-38 in the Class 2A sectional semifinal Tuesday night at Trico High School.
Mater Dei led 38-34 following a basket by Kelsey Gerdes with 4:13 left to play in the game. That’s when things went downhill in a hurry for the Knights.
Mater Dei would turn the ball over seven times from that point forward and the Lions would hit just enough free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The Knights would turn the ball over 22 times in the contest, coughing it up nine times in the fourth quarter alone against Carterville’s relentless pressure.
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“They’re quick, I think they are the quickest team we’ve played against all year,” said Mater Dei coach Dave Kohnen, whose team ended with a record of 17-12. “We had some good looks at the basket a couple of times but they just close the lane down.
“They are exceptional athletes,” the coach added. “Anybody that plays them is going to have their hands full, I’ll tell you that.”
Carterville’s defense kept them in the contest despite struggling offensively for most of the night. The Lions went just 6-28 from the field in the first half and never led in the game until Avery
English hit a jumper with 1:10 left to play.
“We weren’t making shots early, but our defense never quit,” said Carterville coach Matt Crain. “The defensive effort was just fantastic, we met their physicalness and we beat them.”
English led all players with 25 points. The 5-8 senior guard scored 12 of Carterville’s 16 first-half points and had 10 points in the third quarter before leaving the game following a collision at the basket with Gerdes.
“I’m glad she’s on my team, she’s an All-Stater for a reason,” Crain said. “She took a big shot there at the end of the third quarter and she was hurting, but she’s tough as nails and she stuck it out.”
Gerdes paced the Knights with 12 points.
The Lions (22-8) advance to Thursday’s sectional title game where they will take on Central (26-5) at 7 p.m.