While they are still 8-18, the Mascoutah Indians are feeling a bit better about themselves these days.
That good feeling came after the Indians knocked off Mississippi Valley Conference rival Civic Memorial 89-69 last Tuesday to avenge a previous defeat, then beat Class 2A No. 1 regional seed Metro-East Lutheran 79-66 on Friday.
Those two victories came after a string of eight straight defeats that had the Indians wondering where things were headed.
“We had a week of practice leading up to the Civic Memorial game and I thought we had a really good week of preparation,” Mascoutah coach Cody Reynolds said. “You could see in practice that everybody had a little bit of extra bounce in their step. You could see the confidence building in them.”
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One important aspect in the back-to-back wins was the Indians (3-4 in the MVC) hitting 24 of their 34 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. The Indians connected on 12-of-16 threes against Civic Memorial and 12-of-18 against Metro-East Lutheran.
Five different players hit a three against CM, with Tim Parks, Brian Pettiford and Thomas Trumbull sinking three each. Senior Chris Simmons led the way with 22 points while Pettiford had 18, Trumbull 17 and Parks 14.
“It’s our highest point total since I’ve been here,” Reynolds said of the 89-point uprising. “Out of the 89 points, we had 36 points off 3’s, 36 off of 2’s and the rest off of free throws. We did a good job of attacking and getting to the line. We’ve said all year if we hit some outside shots it can open up some driving lanes for our guards.
“Everybody’s kind of finding their stroke right now. Everybody’s contributing and it’s really balanced out our scoring.”
What’s the difference in the Mascoutah offense?
“Sometimes just seeing the ball go through the basket a couple times can do a lot for a shooter’s confidence,” Reynolds said. “It’s finally everybody clicking together. It took a little longer than what we had hoped. It seems like before we would have one or two guys have a good game and for whatever reason the other two or three wouldn’t be clicking.”
Parks sank four of his five 3-point attempts against Metro-East Lutheran and finished with 22 points. Trumbull had 18 and Simmons had 13.
No one is suggesting the Indians have elevated themselves into area elite status, but nearing the tail-end of a disappointing season they are tasting a bit of success.
Reynolds said Simmons symbolized the team’s approach.
“He had a really good week at the Nashville Invitational and then was struggling shooting after that,” Reynolds said. “He’s a hard worker. We had a week off after the Triad game and there were two or three days he was in teh gym with me at 6:30 in the morning getting some shots up before school. He’s followed it up with two really good games now.”
The Indians don’t play against until a conference game against Waterloo on Saturday.
Cahokia Conference champs
Not only did the Central Cougars (22-6) wrap up the Cahokia Conference-Mississippi Division title last week with a victory over Wesclin, they also notched another quality victory Friday over state-ranked Greenville.
Facing a 25-2 Greenville squad ranked ninth in Class 2A, Central delivered a 74-59 victory that included 28 points from junior Logan Kohrmann and 18 from junior Chase Schneider.
Regional of doom
The Illinois High School Association showed it has a sense of humor by lumping three of the state’s top 12 Class 2A teams into the same regional at Carlyle. While it’s certain that geography played a role in the pairing, it’s tough to find any other reason to lump so many talented teams into one regional.
Nashville (25-3) is the No. 1 seed, followed by No. 2 Mater Dei (19-9), No. 3 Central (22-6) and No. 4 Wesclin (18-8), with host Carlyle (7-22) at No. 5. In the latest 2A state rankings, Nashville was second, Mater Dei was seventh and Central was 12th.
In talking with area coaches, the vast majority prefer a return to the old sectional complex format, or as an alternative, seeding the top four teams in a sectional and then splittting those four teams into different regionals.
This problem isn’t limited to basketball, it also applies to most other team sports in Illinois where top-flight teams within the same area are forced to square off in the regional instead of the sectional or beyond.
Other area small-school teams earning No. 1 regional seeds were 1A Okawville (New Athens Regional), 1A Metro-East Lutheran (Hardin Calhoun Regional), 2A Greenville (Vandalia Regional) and 2A Southwestern (Southwestern Regional).