Visions of former New Athens High School basketball players Danae White, Alina Lance and Abby Marlow making clutch shots, grabbing a key rebound or coming up with a steal to ice a win are little more than memories for those who follow the Yellow Jackets.
White graduated in 2015, while Lance and Marlow helped the Yello Jackets win 23, 27, and 22 games in the past three years.
But New Athens coach Erik Hager continues to make the Yellow Jackets a force in the rugged Kaskaskia Division of the Cahokia Conference. With a 57-10 win over Trico earlier this week, New Athens improved to 6-3 for the season and trail Lebanon, the state’s top-ranked Class 1A team, by a game heading into their showdown at New Athens on Friday.
While New Athens’ fast start might be a surprise to some, it hasn’t been for Hager.
“We have had a good stretch the last few weeks. While losing so many of our top players over the last two years, this group were the ones that went up against those girls in practice and competed against everyday,” Hager said. “We aren’t flashy in any way and have room for improvement, but these girls work extremely hard day in and day out.”
Seniors Hunter Parker (8.4 ppg), Jordan Drake (3.3) and junior Courtney Ragland (8.0) were all starters a year ago and have provided leadership for the Yellow Jackets.
Defense has also been a key for New Athens, which has allowed 40 or more points only three times this year.
“We don’t have a lot of varsity experience, but our seniors have stepped up and done a good job,” Hager said. “We have a tough game coming up with Lebanon. They are a very smart team and have very “heady” basketball players. Coach (Chad) Cruthis does a tremendous job with this group and overall will be extremely tough for anyone to beat.”
Mascoutah, Lebanon-Wesclin Tournament pairings released
State-ranked Highland and Belleville West headline the field for the Mascoutah Girls Holiday Basketball Tournament from Dec. 27-29 at Mascoutah High School.
Ranked fifth in the first Class 3A state poll released last week and third in the Class 3A State Tournament a year ago, Highland will take on the Central Cougars at 10 a.m. in the second of eight first round games scheduled for Mascoutah on Dec. 27.
Other first round games in the upper part of the bracket include O’Fallon taking on Triad at 8:30 a.m., Belleville East will battle tournament newcomer Jacksonville at 11:30 a.m. and Nashville will tackle Centralia at 1 p.m.
Belleville West, ranked eighth in the Class 4A poll, will take on Cahokia in the final first round game at 7 p.m. Always-strong Mater Dei will play Riverview Gardens (Mo.) at 2:30 p.m. and will be followed at 4 p.m. by the Okawville-Mascoutah contest.
Althoff plays South Seven Conference rival Carbondale at 5:30 p.m.
Tournament action continues Dec. 28-29 with the title game at 7 p.m. Dec. 29.
The Lebanon-Wesclin Holiday Tournament kicks off Dec. 26 at Lebanon High School with the state’s Class 1A top-ranked team, Lebanon, along with Mount Olive, Columbia and (Centralia) Christ Our Rock Lutheran also in the field.
The co-host and top seeded Lebanon Greyhounds open the 16-team tournament on Dec. 26 when they take on 16th seed Carlyle at 8 p.m. Tournament action begins at 9:30 a.m. with Greenville taking on Sparta. Other lower bracket games include third-seed Columbia playing Piasa Southwestern at 11 a.m., followed by the Wesclin-Central game at 12:30 p.m. Second-seed Mount Olive will battle Steeleville at 2 p.m.
Closing out first round action will be Red Bud playing Roxana at 3:30 p.m., Christ our Rock plays Marissa at 5 p.m. and will be followed by DuQuoin playing New Athens at 6:30 p.m. Tournament action continues the next three days with the title game set for Dec. 29 at 8 p.m.
Troeckler breaks scoring mark
Civic Memorial senior and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville recruit Allie Troeckler became the leading scorer in school history on Tuesday as the Eagles remained undefeated with a 68-37 win over Collinsville.
Troeckler scored 35 points to lead the Eagles attack and now has 2,090 points for career.
Katie Broadway had the old mark of 2,079 points.
University of Illinois recruit Addaya Moore, of Granite City, continues to put up impressive numbers as she leads the metro east area in scoring with a 21.7 ppg. average. Troeckler is second at 20.3, while Lebanon junior Kendra Bass is third at 19.8 points per game. Ellen Schulte of Metro East Lutheran in Edwardsville is currently fourth at 19.6 while Chamya Darough of Belleville West is fifth (17.8).
Highland senior Alex LaPorta is the area leader in rebounds, averaging 14.3 per game. Moore is second at 10 rebounds per contest. Sami Kasting of Metro East Lutheran leads in assists (4.8), Konnija Greer of upstart Madison leads in steals (6.11). Moore leads in blocked shots at 5.67 per game.
BND Girls Basketball Rankings
Rankings for metro-east teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff. First-place votes are in parentheses; records through Tuesday
Large school rankings (Class 3A-4A)
Also receiving votes: Belleville East (6-4), East St. Louis (4-5), Columbia (7-2), Collinsville (4-5), Granite City (2-2), Jerseyville (6-3), Triad (4-4), Waterloo (4-4), Central (3-5)
Small school rankings (Class 1A-2A)
Also receiving votes: New Athens (6-3), Red Bud (7-4) Madison (7-2), Gibault (5-6), Marquette (5-6), Roxana (4-5)