Girls Basketball

Lebanon coasts to sixth straight regional championship

Seniors Krista Bass and Madison Schoenfeld combined for 10 first-quarter points as the Lebanon girls jumped out to a 17-3 lead and coasted to a 55-42 win over Metro-East Lutheran on Friday in the title game of the Class 1A Metro-East Lutheran Regional.

Krista Bass continued to help pick up the scoring pace left when twin sister Kendra Bass suffered a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago.

Bass and junior Emily Reinneck made 3-point shots, and Schoenfeld scored twice in the low post — all in the opening five minutes. When Bass scored on a short jumper to end the quarter, Lebanon (28-1) had a 14-point advantage.

Metro-East Lutheran (15-12) would never get closer than nine points the rest of the night as Lebanon, ranked third in the Class 1A state poll, coasted to its sixth straight regional title.

“And I’ve been fortunate enough to be around for four of those championships,” Lebanon coach Chad Cruthis said. “Metro-East Lutheran had a nice season, and we knew that playing here on their home floor with a large crowd behind them, they would be ready to play. I thought we came out with a good first quarter.

“Being around this group of kids for the last four years has been a lot of fun because I know how hard they have worked. It’s a special bunch of girls.”

Schoenfeld, a 6-foot-1 senior, tallied 13 of her 17 points in the second half to lead the way for Lebanon, which will advance to the North Greene sectional.

The Greyhounds will play Carrollton (19-11) at 7 p.m. Monday in the first of two semifinals. Okawville will play Jacksonville Routt in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The title game will be Thursday.

Reinneck added 16 points, while Bass chipped in with 14 for Lebanon, which conducted an offensive clinic for must of the first half. Playing unselfish basketball from the outset, the Greyhounds led 27-14 at halftime.

“We had a little lull in the second quarter, but we moved the basketball well and got good shots,” Cruthis said. “With the exception of baskets on layups and off of steals, we had 11 baskets and 10 assists in the first half. As a coach, that is what you like to see.

“Sometimes we can be a little too unselfish and we pass up good shots.”

Led by junior Ellen Schulte, the Knights cut the Greyhounds’ lead to 31-21 early in the second half. But Lebanon responded.

Schoenfeld scored on a pair of short jumpers, and when Bass scored on a three-point play, Lebanon’s lead was 38-21 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter. Seconds later, Reinneck scored on a three-point play as Lebanon’s lead grew to 41-22.

“We played well tonight, and we feel like we’re playing good as a team right now,” Bass said. “It was kind of different for me when Kendra went down, but we’ve regrouped as a team, and I feel like we can go all the way if we keep playing like this.”

Cruthis said the key to the second half was getting the ball inside to Schoenfeld.

“After we had that little lull in the second quarter, I told the girls that they needed to get ball inside to Madison in the second half. We did a much better job of that in the last two quarters,” Cruthis said. “Before this (tournament) began, I told the girls the goal was to win five games in a row, which puts you in the state tournament.

“We’ve got the first two.”

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean