It was another dominating post-season performance for Kendra Wilken and her Cougar teammates as Central rolled to its third consecutive sectional championship with a 67-37 win over Carterville at Trico High School on Thursday night.
Wilken scored 35 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds and Central went 6-8 from 3-point range in the first half as the Cougars built a 20-point lead by halftime.
“It was a really good team win, I’m really proud of the way they executed for the most part,” said Central coach Nathan Rueter. “We’ve had capable shot makers around Kendra all year long.”
The Cougars (27-5) advance to Monday night’s Super-Sectional at Illinois College in Jacksonville where they will take on Camp Point-Central — a 63-61 winner over Havana in the Beardstown Sectional — at 7 p.m.
“It will be a tough test Monday night,” Rueter said, “but we are just excited to be playing in the final week of the basketball season.”
Big second stanza
The Cougars led 18-11 to start the second quarter, but Central would quickly put some distance on the Lions.
Grace Yaunches opened the period with a 3-pointer and Wilken followed that up with a conventional three-point play. Breanne Jansen added another trey at the 5:09 mark as the Cougars led 27-11 before Carterville could even get on the scoreboard.
Avery English finally got a bucket for the Lions, but Jansen followed that up with another 3-pointer to put Central ahead 30-13.
The Cougars would hit 4-5 from beyond the arc in the second quarter - six 3-pointers in all in the first half — as Central led 40-20 by the intermission.
Carterville would only get as close as 19 points in the second half as the rout was on.
“That just boosted everyone’s spirits when they started hitting those 3s,” Wilken said. “It’s not just me down there scoring, it’s the whole team. They have the confidence to make those shots and to keep shooting them.”
Wilken continued her post-season dominance in the win over Carterville. In Central’s last three games the 6-2 All-Stater has scored 93 points and grabbed 43 rebounds. Wilken was 13-17 from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line against Lions.
“We thought that if we could get her the basketball that she could have a big impact on the game, and she did,” Rueter said. “She is a special player, and special players understand the importance of being big at big moments. We’ve seen that from her the last few games and hopefully she will continue to do that for us.”
Jansen added 11 points for Central and Yaunches 10 to help give the Cougars that inside-out punch against Carterville.
“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Rueter said. “Kendra benefits from them hitting shots and they benefit from her being effective. Kendra gets a lot of the credit, but Breanne and Grace have a knack to make big shots at big moments and those kids really showed up tonight and shot the ball well.”