The Columbia Eagles were poised, confident and structured last week at the Waterloo Gibault Candy Cane Classic. And coach Scott Germain couldn’t have been happier.
Madelyne Juenger led a trio of players in double figures with 13 points, and a tough Columbia defense held Waterloo under 10 points in each of the final three quarters, as the Eagles opened the Christmas holiday basketball season with a 49-38 win in the title game, which was played at Gibault High School.
Courtney Weilbacher added 11 points, and Sophia Bonaldi added 10 for an Eagles team that held the Bulldogs (5-5) to just 20 points in the final three quarters after building a 22-18 advantage in the first quarter. The defensive effort was again a key for Columbia, which held Wood River to 13 points and Gibault to only 22 in its first two games of the tournament.
But it was the offensive structure of the Eagles (9-2) which pleased Germain the most as his Eagles improved to 9-2 for the season.
“The Waterloo game in the Candy Cane tournament was very good for us because we were able to show that we could run an offensive set and get the best possible shot with having structure on that end of the floor,” Germain said. “Our thinking is that we would like to show improvement from week to week, and hopefully we will start peaking in the next month or so, when regional play gets started.”
The balanced scoring attack was nothing new for the Eagles. While Juenger (12.5) leads the way on the offensive end, Weilbacher, Bonaldi and Whitney Edwards all average around eight points per game.
“We have been very balanced, and the girls are understanding that it does take some structure on both ends of the floor to be an effective team. Madelyne Juenger is our leading scorer, but on any given night she is getting help from a variety of players, which include Courtney Weilbacher, Whitney Edwards, Blair Wittenbrink, Sophia Bonaldi, Lexi Touchette, Fae Harrell and Kaylee Jackson. We are excited with the start we are having but believe that we have still not played our best complete game yet.”
Granite City’s Moore sits out
Granite City senior and University of Illinois recruit Addaya Moore sat out the Warriors’ 49-42 loss to Collinsville on Tuesday for unspecified reasons, but Granite City Athletic Director John Moad said Wednesday that the 5-foot-11 forward remains on the team.
Moore, who also missed the Warriors’ Southwestern Conference game with Edwardsville, is averaging 23 points, 9.5 rebounds and nearly six blocked shots this season. Moore is expected to return to the lineup when Granite City opens play in the Duchesne (Mo.) Tournament on Dec. 28.
Civic Memorial wins battle of state-ranked teams
For the second time in less than a month, the Civic Memorial Eagles defeated Highland in a battle of top Class 3A programs on Tuesday.
Led by senior all-state forward Allie Troeckler, the Eagles (11-0) outscored Highland (8-3) 18-9 in the third quarter to erase a halftime deficit and win 58-53.
Civic Memorial, ranked second in the Class 3A state poll, also defeated Highland 57-45 in the Salem Thanksgiving Tournament. Highland is ranked fifth in Class 3A and placed third in the Class 3A State Tournament last year.
The big win for Okawville
Veteran Rockets coach Michelle Hasheider-Burianek picked up a win last week as Okawville defeated Mater Dei 35-18 in a battle of local powers.
Okawville (11-1), got 15 points from junior Madison Hackstadt, but the difference was the Rockets’ defense, as it held a Mater Dei team to one of its lowest point totals in recent years.
“Our defense just really came to play. I was so proud of our girls’ effort,” Hasheider-Burianek said. “Offensively we had quite a few turnovers and mistakes, but they just played so hard defensively, they didn’t have as much to give on the other end of the court.
“They played like a team and put four solid quarters together. We are playing without any seniors, and we sometimes lack that leader to step up when things don’t go our way. This time our juniors really rose to the challenge.”
Among the holiday tournaments drawing the most interest are those at Lebanon, Mascoutah and Jerseyville high schools. The Lebanon-Wesclin Tournament kicks off Dec. 26, while Mascoutah and Jerseyville start play Dec. 27.
▪ At the Lebanon-Wesclin Tournament at Lebanon High School: The top-ranked Class 1A team in the state and co-host Lebanon is the top-seed, with Class 3A Columbia, Class 1A state-ranked Mount Olive and Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran also in the field. Play begins at 9:30 a.m. on Monday and concludes with the title game at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
▪ At the Mascoutah Girls Invitational: Defending champion Highland is ranked among the top five in the Class 3A state poll and heads into the 16-team tournament as the team to beat. But should the Bulldogs falter, there are seven teams who could possibly be holding the championship trophy Thursday. Among those teams are state-ranked Okawville (Class 1A), Mater Dei and Nashville (2A) and Belleville West (Class 4A). O’Fallon, Althoff and Belleville East could also be in the hunt. Tournament action begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday with the title game set for 7 p.m. Thursday.
▪ At the Jerseyville Tournament: Undefeated Civic Memorial is a heavy favorite, but the Eagles could be pushed by the likes of 2016 Class 1A state champion Hardin Calhoun. Freeburg is also in this pool play event, which begins at noon Tuesday and concludes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
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 (8-5), Columbia (9-2), Collinsville (6-5), East St. Louis (5-5), Central (5-5), Jerseyville (6-5), Triad (5-4), Waterloo (5-5)
Small school rankings (Class 1A-2A)
Also receiving votes: New Athens (6-3), Madison (8-2), Red Bud (9-4)