The Mater Dei girls basketball team went on a 15-0 run to open the third quarter Thursday and defeated Pinckneyville 51-31 in the Class 2A Pinckneyville Regional.
By making it difficult for the Panthers to inbound the basketball early, the Knights jumped out to a 12-5 first-quarter lead. Mater Dei took a 29-24 lead into halftime, as senior Myah Beckmann scored 14 of her 17 points before the intermission.
But despite creating 14 first-half turnovers, the Knights’ defense was even better in the second half.
“We just did a better job of playing the passing lanes and not letting them penetrate in the second half,” Mater Dei sophomore Shannon Lampe said. “We did a good job of playing our zone defense.”
With Lampe chipping in with 14 points and Kierra Winkeler adding 13, the Knights (20-7) broke open the game with their 15-0 scoring run over the first five minutes of the third quarter. The Knights led 43-29 after three quarters, and both coaches — Mater Dei’s David Kohnen and Pinckneyville’s Alan Engelhardt — emptied their benches in the final three minutes.
“After the semifinal win, Myah said to me, ‘Don’t worry, Coach. We’ll play better in big games,’” Kohnen said. “I’m so happy for these kids. They are the ones who put in all the hard work.
“We had 10 days off before the tournament. But we really got after it during that time. We made some changes, and the girls just responded well.”
The win lifts Mater Dei into the McLeansboro Sectional at 6 p.m. Tuesday against Vienna, which defeated Hamilton County 43-40 on Thursday to win the Du Quoin regional.
With Beckmann picking up her third foul right before the end of the first half and two other starters having two fouls each, Kohnen went to his zone defense in the second half. The Panthers and freshman star Kenzie Rushing had no answer.
Rushing, who scored 13 of her 15 first-half points in the second quarter, tallied only two points in the final half.
Meanwhile, Winkeler scored six points and four Mater Dei teammates also tallied during the 15-0 spurt as the Knights broke the game open.
“I think we were a little scared early,” Engelhardt said. “Once we relaxed a little bit and started attacking their press correctly, we were fine. When they went into the zone defense, they cut down the passing lanes and made us try and shoot the ball more from the perimeter. We don’t do that very well at times.”
Pinckneyville ends its season 14-14.