Civic Memorial moves into 3A super-sectional after knocking off rival Highland
After losing in the sectional championship to Highland a year ago, the Civic Memorial Eagles were not going to let it happen again.
Civic Memorial roared out to leads of 14-0 and 22-3 Thursday, then held off a frenetic Highland comeback down the stretch for a 61-52 victory in the championship game of the Class 3A Waterloo Sectional.
“Ever since that loss last year it’s been in the back of our minds, pushing us every time we go for a workout, every time we have practice — building up for this moment,” said Civic Memorial senior Allie Troeckler, the Eagles’ all-time scoring leader, who finished with 25 points. “You could tell in that first quarter how bad we wanted it. That’s all it was: Pure energy and pure desire to get this win.”
Civic Memorial (31-2), ranked third in the state, ended Highland’s 21-game winning streak as well as the Bulldogs’ season. The Eagles won three of four meetings this season and move on to face Rochester (30-3) at 7 p.m. Monday in the Springfield Super-Sectional at the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Civic Memorial coach Jonathan Denney hopes to mentally transport his team back to the first meeting with Highland this season. The Eagles jumped out to a 29-19 halftime lead at the Salem Thanksgiving Tournament and won 51-39.
“We put ourselves in that locker room and how hungry we were early in the season to play them for the first time,” said Denney, whose team had knocked off Highland in three straight regional finals before losing in the sectional last year.
Kaylee Eaton had 11 of her 16 points in the second half to help hold off the Highland comeback. Alaira Tyus added nine points.
Highland’s first quarter included missing six of seven shots, committing six turnovers and displaying a general uneasiness not typically seen from the fourth-ranked Bulldogs (29-4).
Coach Mike Arbuthnot finally saw his team rally in the second half, but Civic Memorial’s big runs at the start of each half — 14-0 in the first and 13-2 in the second — proved to be the difference.
Highland trailed 26-17 at halftime, but despite an emotional comeback attempt, could get no closer than seven points the rest of the night. The Eagles defense forced 15 of the Bulldogs’ 25 turnovers in the first half.
“It was one of those to where it just escalated,” Arbuthnot said. “Heck, I needed 10 timeouts, and I don’t think it would have helped. When you went into halftime down by nine, we felt really fortunate.”
Highland senior Madison Wellen closed out her career with 25 points, while junior Rece Portell had 13 points, and senior Alex LaPorta had 11.