Girls Basketball

Freshmen firepower leads Belleville West into Mascoutah Invitational semifinals

Known more for its outstanding athletes and high-powered, fast-paced offense, the Belleville West Maroons flashed a little ‘D” on Tuesday at Mascoutah High School.

‘D” for Darough that is.

Using her athleticism and quickness to shut down high-scoring Mascoutah senior Maddie Nekola, West freshman Chamya Darough added 16 points as the Maroons eased into the semifinals of the Mascoutah Girls Basketball Invitational with a 40-25 win over the host Indians.

Bottled up by a tenacious Indians man-to-man defense, West (10-3) led just 12-10 at halftime before Darough scored seven of her points in the third quarter to key an 11-6 spurt and give the Maroons a 23-16 lead.

With Mascoutah struggling to mount any kind of offense and just making 50 percent of its attempts from the foul line (11-for-22), the Maroons slowly pulled away in the final quarter as they earned a semifinal berth with two-time defending champion Central.

The meeting with the Cougars will be the third in as many years at Mascoutah for West, which has lost the title game to Central the past two years. The Cougars also defeated West in the season-opening O’Fallon Panthers Invitational in November.

“They (Central) beat us by I believe, three points at O’Fallon. We know we can play with them,” West coach Seth Garrett said. “I was pleased with how we played defense today. We’re not known for being a defensive-minded program but today we showed we can play it.”

“Chamya (Darough) was on their best player (Nekola) about 75 percent of the time and Erika (Harvey) had her the rest of the time. We knew she (Nekola) was averaging like 15 points a game and we held her to one free throw. That’s a pretty good effort.”

Another West freshman — B’Aunce Carter — added 10 points for West.

Mascoutah coach Terry Moeller, although pleased with his Indians defensive performance, didn’t have much to say about his squad’s 25-point offensive output.

“Some nights you just can’t play enough defense,” Moeller said. “We just couldn’t make any shots. We weren’t very effective at the free throw line either. I think we missed 17 free throws in our last game and still won. We couldn’t do that tonight.”

Junior Tennaye Green led Mascoutah with 12 points.

In other quarterfinal games on Tuesday

Belleville East 69, Carbondale 61

The Carbondale Terriers are undefeated no more.

Belleville East freshman guard Kayla Rainey continued to shine as she scored 19 points and teammates Ellisha Davis and Brittney Nitz were also in double figures as the Lancers moved into the tournament semifinals while sending the Terriers (9-1) down to their first loss of the season.’

Using its quickness to cause havoc against the bigger, stronger Terriers, East (9-4) used a 17-2 scoring spurt midway through the second half and led by 15 points with under 3 1/2 minutes left in the game before the Terriers rallied.

With Kandace Jones scoring eight of her 10 points and East, once again struggling from the foul line (21 of 34), the Terriers closed to within three points with under a minute left.

But Rainey, who scored nine of her 19 points and Nitz, who tallied six of her 12 in the fourth quarter, the Lancers were able to hang on for the win as they earned a semifinal berth for the first time since 2012 when they placed fourth.

While happy with the victory, East coach Amanda Kemezys was shaking her head overt the Lancers continued free throw shooting woes.

“I don’t know if we need to take a pill or drink some of that special Michael Jordan Space Jam juice,’’ Kemezys said with a smile. “Fortunately we made enough free throws and were at the line enough to where we made one of two shots, to keep the lead. We need to work on the free throw shooting though.

“I thought we played well against a very good Carbondale team. They were a lot bigger and stronger than we were and they could have broken us in half. But to our credit we were able to get our transition game going and get the big lead.

Davis added 15 points for East, which will battle Highland in one of two semifinals beginning at 11:30 a.m. Belleville West will take on Central in the other semifinal at 1 p.m.

Central 53, Centralia 21

Defense was the name of the game for the Cougars who ran their Mascoutah Girls Invitational winning streak to 10 games with the lopsided win over the Annies.

The two-time defending tournament champions whose last loss came against Nashville in the ‘12 title contest, Central led just 15-10 early in the second quarter, then held their Clinton County rivals to just 11 points in the final 22 minutes of the game as they move into the semifinal game against Belleville West on Wednesday.

Central (12-1) was led by guards Faye Meissner and Grace Yaunches who combined for 20 of the Cougars 28 points in the first half — including 12 of 17 during a 17-3 run in the second quarter as the Cougars took a 28-11 at halftime.

“I thought Grace and Faye were the keys to the game in the first half,’’ Cougars coach Nathan Rueter said. “They controlled the way we played with their scoring, passing and defense. They are capable of doing that.

“I didn’t think we played with much emotion though. I thought our kids off the bench came and gave us a lift when we needed it.’’

Senior all-state center Kendra Wilken scored 13 of her team-high 16 points in the second half as the Cougars continued to pile on the points against the ice-cold shooting Annies.

“We were right with them, down 15-10 early in the second quarter,’’ Centralia coach Roger Stieg said. “But 21 points isn’t going to beat anybody. It’s the same thing its been all year. We just have trouble scoring.’’

Highland 59, O’Fallon 43

Held to just two free throws in the first half, Bulldogs senior Amanda Ponce scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half as Highland broke open a close game with a 15-2 scoring run and went on for the quarterfinal win.

Highland (9-3), getting eight first-half points from senior Madison Wellen and continued strong play on defense and on the backboards from junior Alex LaPorta, built a 29-18 lead after two-quarters

But O’Fallon (6-5) caught fire. Getting a pair of 3-point field goals from senior Becca Althoff and five points from sophomore Jayla Stubblefield, the Panthers rallied to within two points at 33-31.

A potential game-tying jumper from Stubblefield then rimmed out on O’Fallon’s next possession and Ponce followed with a 3-point field goal to increase the lead to five points.

Ponce then scored six of the Bulldogs next eight points as Highland (9-3) seized command with a 43-33 lead after three-quarters. When the Bulldogs scored seven points to start the final quarter, the lead was 50-33. O’Fallon would get no closer than 13 points the rest of the game.

“I thought we were able to get out and get some easy baskets in transition early and we got out to a nice lead, but to O’Fallon’s credit they battled back,’’ Highland coach Mike Arbuthnot said. “Amanda and Madison have both played a lot of games for us. I feel comfortable when either of them has the ball in their hands.’’

Althoff led O’Fallon with 16 points.

In the consolation semifinals

Mater Dei 41, Nashville 36

Margo Lampe helped key a solid middle two-quarters for the Knights as she scored 14 points to help lead Mater Dei (6-6) into the consolation final. MacKenzie McFerron led Nashville (9-4) with 14 points.

Mount Vernon 39, Okawville 32

Paetyn Hayes scored 15 points as the Rams earned a bid into the consolation title game with the win over the young Lady Rockets.

Audrey Jansen led Okawville with eight points.

In the consolation quarterfinals

Nashville 47, Althoff 39

Nashville center Karly Stanowski made herself at home at the free throw line as she made 14 of 18 attempts and scored 18 points as the Hornettes sent Althoff down to another tough loss.

Junior Kyleigh Vaught led Althoff (2-12) with 19 points.

Mater Dei 61, McCluer South 42

Sophomore Myah Beckmann was at it again in this early morning matchup, scoring 15 points as the Knights moved into the consolation semifnals. Logan Braundmeier added 11 points for the Knights.

Okawville 53, Christopher 51

Sophomore Madison Hackstadt scored nine of her 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Lady Rockets held off Christopher. High-scoring Autumn Gunter led Christopher with 29 points.

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean