One year ago, the undefeated Lebanon Greyhounds entered tournament play 10-0 and walked away 14-0 after a 17-point win in the championship game over New Athens. Last week, the Greyhounds, ranked first in the Class 1A state poll, entered play 10-0 and, with a 49-37 win over Mount Olive High School before a capacity crowd, walked away 14-0.
Emily Reinneck scored 16 points, while Madison Schoenfeld (11 points) and Kendra Bass (10) were also in double figures as the Greyhounds romped to the championship.
“Am I surprised we won by double figures for the second year in a row? Yes and no,” Greyhounds coach Chad Cruthis said on Tuesday. “I think sometimes that we’re a better defensive team than what I give us credit for.
“In the semifinal against (Centralia) Christ our Rock Lutheran we wanted to pressure full court. Against Mount Olive we wanted to pressure, but not as much full court. We put Madison (Schoenfeld) on the (Jill) Niehaus girl and she held her to eight points. We played excellent team defense. We helped out very well and that is what this team does so well.
“They help each other. On offense and defense this is a very unselfish basketball team, and they showed it once again last week.”
Led by the Bass sisters, Kendra and Krista, the Greyhounds are one of three local teams still undefeated. Edwardsville, which won the Oswego East Tournament is 13-0, while Civic Memorial, led by all-state senior Allie Troeckler, improved to 15-0 by winning the Jerseyville Tournament.
The Greyhounds feature a balanced attack and tenacious nonstop pressure defense.
“I think we’re one of the better Class 1A teams in the state. But like I said before, it really doesn’t matter right now. It’s nice for the kids and nice for the fans and the people to talk about around town,” Cruthis said. “But I think we have a couple of things that a lot of teams don’t have.
“First,we are extremely quick, and second is that on any given night we can have any one of three or four girls lead us in scoring. We’ve got Kendra and Krista (Bass), but the other night, Emily Reinneck steps up and has a big game for us, and Madison (Schoenfeld) does a great job on defense and gets us a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.”
Kendra Bass and Krista Bass headlined the Lebanon-Wesclin Holiday Tournament All-Tournament team. Other local players selected were Nancy Fritsche, of Greenville; Cami Meadows, Wesclin; Destiny Williams, Chester; Jordan Drake, New Athens; Blair Wittenbrink, Columbia; Caroline Boehne, (Centralia) Christ Our Rock Lutheran; Zoe Murphy and Jill Niehaus, of Mt. Olive; and Emily Reinneck, of Lebanon.
Edwardsville escapes Oswego
The Edwardsville Tigers journey to the Chicago suburbs last week proved to be a hit in more ways than one.
Ranked first in the Belleville News-Democrat Large School poll and fourth in the Class 4A state poll, coach Lori Blade’s perennial state power Tigers played in and won the Oswego East Holiday Classic.
Tournament MVP Makenzie Silvey connected on a pair of 3-pointers in overtime as the Tigers (13-0, 5-0 SWC) defeated host Oswego East 49-47 in the title contest.
Rachel Pranger added 10 points for the Tigers, who also defeated Joliet Central, Matea Valley and Queen of Peace in their first three games of the tournament.
Silvey led the way for Edwardsville, scoring in double figures in all four games, including outbursts of 24 points against Joliet Central and 26 against Matea Valley. Juniors Rachel Pranger and Kate Martin were in double figures in three of the four games.
The close game was the second of the season for Edwardsville which defeated Rochester 48-45 in its third game of the year.
The Tigers could also get tested Thursday when they take on the O’Fallon Panthers (10-4, 5-1 SWC) in a conference game beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Wellen, LaPorta picking up the slack
One year ago, Amanda Ponce lifted the Highland Bulldogs to the title at the Mascoutah Girls Holiday Basketball Invitational Tournament and later to a third-place finish at the Illinois High School Association Class 3A Girls State Tournament.
With their 52-25 win over Mater Dei in the title game at Mascoutah last week, the Bulldogs could be headed for a return trip to Redbird Arena in Normal in February.
Led by seniors Madison Wellen and Alex LaPorta, the Bulldogs are 12-3 heading into the second half of the season with a little over a month remaining before the postseason.
Wellen sees similarities between this Highland team and the one from a year ago.
“I think this team is very comparable to the last couple we’ve had,” Wellen said. “We are getting better with each passing week and each game. We’ve got some younger players who have fit in well with the rest of us, and they are learning their roles and doing whatever it takes to make this team better.
“We have a couple of big games ahead of us, and we just want to keep on working hard and improving. The goal is to be playing our best heading into the postseason in a few weeks.”
Wellen, who leads Highland in scoring at 19.4 points per game, had 21 points in the title game win over Mater Dei. LaPorta averages 14.2 points and 14.3 rebounds per game.
Clash of the state powers
Two marquee games highlight the rest of the week in metro-east high school girls basketball.
Undefeated Lebanon, ranked first in the News-Democrat Small School poll, will take on second-ranked Okawville at Lebanon High School on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Lebanon, which is ranked first the Class 1A state poll, won the Lebanon-Wesclin Holiday Tournament. Okawville, ranked third, has lost to Nashville, Mater Dei and Althoff, all Class 2A teams.
Highland will be out for revenge when they take on undefeated Civic Memorial in the opening game of the Highland Shootout at 10 a.m.
Led by Allie Troeckler, a two-time Class 3A all-state selection, the No. 1-ranked Eagles have handed Highland two of its three losses. Civic Memorial defeated Highland 57-45 in the title game of the Salem Thanksgiving Tournament and posted a 58-53 win over the Bulldogs in a Mississippi Valley Conference game Dec. 20.
Eagles romp at Jerseyville
With Troeckler leading the way, Civic Memorial coasted to the tournament title at the Jerseyville Christmas Tournament. The Eagles defeated Freeburg and Carrollton before beating McCluer North (Mo.) 65-52 in the championship game.
Troeckler led the way for Civic Memorial, totaling 74 points in the three games, including 29 in the championship over the Stars.
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 Monday
Large school rankings (Class 3A-4A)
Also receiving votes: Belleville West (10-5); Columbia (12-4), Central (8-7), Collinsville (6-5), Jerseyville (10-5); East St. Louis (5-5)
Small school rankings (Class 1A-2A)
Also receiving votes: New Athens (8-5), Madison (9-2), Red Bud (11-6)