The semifinal round of the Jerseyville Class 3A Regional Tournament followed a definite trend of tight games between Highland and its Mississippi Valley rival Civic Memorial.
The only difference between this bucket-for-bucket showdown was the outcome. Civic Memorial advanced to the regional championship game against host Jerseyville with a 48-42 win over Highland.
“We expected a really close game. Both times we met this year, one was in overtime and the other was by six points in their place,” said Highland coach Matt Ellege. “We just had to get the ball to the basket a little bit better. Hats off the CM’s defense for that.”
The Bulldogs’ season ends at 11-15. Civic Memorial, 18-11, will face Jerseyville, 39-26 winners of Marquette in the evening’s other semifinal, for the regional title Friday night.
Civic Memorial’s Jacob Lawrence was nearly spot on with his season averages, scoring a game-high 19 points with 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. He was seven-of-11 shooting from the field.
JaQuan Adams, who started the season on the Civic Memorial freshman team added 17 points, the highest of his young career. He’s averaged eight points in the 19 games he’s played.
Civic Memorial coach Doug Carey said Adams has drawn some attention away from Lowrence by adding another scoring threat.
“When he’s knocking the 15-footer down and getting to the basket that’s another guy that their team has to defend,” Carey said. “Since he came into the lineup around the Christmas Tournament, when he started to start, it’s really helped Jakob out a lot. They still pack it in on Jakob — there’s no doubt everybody is trying to stop him — but we have another option and JaQuan gives us that.”
The game had eight lead changes in the first half alone, with no team leading by more than three points.
It wasn’t until Lawrence finished a three-point play from the free throw line and Adams scored on a baseline drive that the Eagles opened their lead to seven points. Highland kept it close, but never had the lead again.
Lowrence and Adams opened the fourth quarter for the Eagles, each with a basket, to make the score 39-31, the widest margin of the game.
“Lawrence is a ton inside and Adams came up with some big shots and has really become a weapon for them,” Ellege said.
Luke Theis scored on a drive through the lane and Austin Elledge scored on the front end of a pair of free throws to put the Bulldogs back with in five. The pair responded to a field goal by Adams with a layup each to cut Civic Memorial’s lead to 43-40 with 2:08 left.
But the Eagles closed on a 5-2 run. Guard Camryn Gerhardt found Lawrence alone under the basket for an easy goal. Then Elledge was called with traveling with 38 seconds left to give the ball back to Civic Memorial with a two possession lead.
Lawrence and Brett Lane iced the game with free throws. In all, Civic Memorial was good on 10 of 11 free throw attempts, including all seven in the second half. Lawrence was six-for-six.
“He got his rebounds down the stretch — he got all of them — and knocked down his free throws,” said Carey. “He’s done that all year. He’s our go-to guy. The kids know it and they try to get him the ball.”
Highland was led by Austin Ellege, who finished with 18 points. Cole Landmann added eight, Justin Twyford had six, and Brode Portell and Theis each scored five.
Also scoring for Civic Memorial were Zack Lehnen with five, Lane with four and Adam Hill with three.
Neither team got points from their bench.