Thursday, December 28, 2017

State Farm Holiday Classic Girls Basketball | Day 1 Recap

The captains and coaches meet for Morton and Chicago North Lawndale. The Potters would go on to beat
the Phoenix, 86-26. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
Bloomington, IL - They call it "the best basketball this side of March" in Bloomington-Normal, and it was the State Farm Holiday Classic, getting underway all throughout Wednesday, with 64 teams in four divisions/brackets, Small & Large School Boys, as well as Small & Large School Girls. The venues included Bloomington Central Catholic, Normal Community, Normal West, and Illinois Wesleyan's Shirk Center.

Small School Girls - (2) Danville Schlarman vs. (15) LeRoy
Things got off to an incredibly fast start for the Schlarman Hilltoppers (12-0) and they never looked back, dominating a now (3-9) LeRoy Panthers squad. The Panthers just couldn't find the rhythm they needed to get into in order to have a chance in this one, and meanwhile, Schlarman was making practically every shot they put up. It was 27-4 after the first quarter, and the Schlarman lead was 48 at halftime, 58-10. Things calmed down for the Hilltoppers in the second half, as star junior and Notre Dame commit Anaya Peoples didn't even see the floor in the fourth quarter. Peoples would finish with a game-high 20 points, and her Schlarman Hilltoppers would cruise away with a 79-24 victory over LeRoy in opening round action. Danielle Hanshew was the leading scorer for LeRoy, as she finished with 6 points.

Large School Girls - (6) Chicago St. Ignatius vs. (11) Bloomington
This one was a fairly quiet first 16 minutes, as the two teams would combine for 40 points at halftime, with Chicago St. Ignatius (9-2) leading at the break, 23-17. The second half would see a revamped offense on both sides, as St. Ignatius almost doubled their points in the third frame, as Bloomington (5-7) saw their offense just about do the same thing. The Wolfpack hung on to a 37-27 lead after three quarters. Bloomington would make a push for it towards the end of the fourth, but it was just a case of too little, too late. Chicago St. Ignatius would go on to defeat Bloomington, 54-48, in a close one. Bloomington's leading scorer was Bett O'Neal, who finished with 13 points. Chicago St. Ignatius was lead in scoring by Molly Gannon. She finished with a game-high 18 points.

Large School Girls - (7) Rochester vs. (10) Normal West
Despite Rochester (8-5) having the higher seed in this matchup, Normal West (9-2) looked very much like the better team. The game played pretty close in the first eight minutes, with Normal West taking an early 7-5 lead. Then, Normal West turned on the jets. The Wildcats would score 19 second quarter points versus another five point quarter from Rochester. Normal West would take a 26-10 lead into halftime. Things would only go further south for the reigning 3A runners-up from Rochester, as a four-point quarter greeted them out of the locker room. That 16-point halftime deficit had now ballooned to a 26-point deficit. At this point, the game was essentially in the books, and Normal West would roll to an easy victory, 47-21, over Rochester. The Wildcats' leading scorer was Whitney Bozarth, who finished with 14 points on 4 quality 3-pointers. Rochester's Havilyn Dulin & Lindsey Sapetti both had 5 points to lead the Rockets.

Large School Girls - (2) Morton vs. (15) Chicago North Lawndale
To start, this one had a big glaring fact to point out before things even tipped off. Chicago North Lawndale (2-11) only dressed five players, the rest of the roster was out for varying reasons. Morton (11-1) was fully healthy, and dressed 14 girls. Morton was able to capitalize on that depth advantage, and jump out to a 34-point lead by the end of the first quarter, with the Potters ahead 36-2. In the first quarter, Morton's Tenley Dowell scored 13 points within the first three minutes of the game. The Potters offense somewhat tapered off from the first quarter, as one might expect a team to do after scoring so much. However, it was still a substantially good number of points (19) scored in the second frame for Morton, while North Lawndale could only muster 4 points. at halftime, Morton had eclipsed the State Farm Holiday Classic record for most points in a quarter (36), as well as most points in a half (55). The three-time defending 3A Champions would have a 49-point lead at the half, 55-6. Dowell had 19 points by the break. The third quarter was a tad more competitive, as it saw North Lawndale cross the 10+ point threshold, while also scoring 10 in that same quarter. The lead was already too much, and Morton would still have a 58-point lead with a quarter to go, 74-16. The fourth quarter was fairly quiet for Morton, and North Lawndale had one of their best quarters of the game. The only issue there is the already insurmountable Potters lead as well as the best offensive quarter for the Lady Phoenix being 10 points. In the end, Morton would fall just short of the Large School Girls record for most points in a game, but still won over North Lawndale, 86-26. Tenley Dowell was Morton's leading scorer, as she poured in 25 points. The Lady Phoenix were lead by Jamia Lockheart, who finished with 9 points. 13 of the 14 rostered Potters scored.

Large School Girls - (1) Peoria Richwoods vs. (16) Normal U-High
This one did not play out as a top seed versus a 16 seed normally would play. Laura Sellers had her Normal U-High (2-12) squad ready to go. Despite the decent showing by the Pioneers, Peoria Richwoods (14-0) wound up just being too much to handle. There should be a lot of credit going U-High's way for staying in this one, as the halftime lead, although in Richwoods' favor, was only 22-16. Star junior Camryn Taylor only had 2 points at the half for the Knights. This one was low-scoring for the most part, but Richwoods came out of halftime with a little more of an edge, outscoring U-High 8-3 in the third quarter to take a 30-19 lead into the final quarter. The result of the game wasn't truly locked in until roughly midway through the fourth. Peoria Richwoods would grind this win out, 40-25 over Normal U-High. Kourtney Crane lead the Knights with 12 points. Addy Loeffler lead the Pioneers with 8 points.

Large School Girls - (8) Canton vs. (9) Chicago Simeon 
These two teams, as the eighth and ninth seeds may show on paper, wound up being a competitive, fairly close game. It wasn't like that to start. Canton (10-2) just couldn't find their zone offensively, and were essentially stuck as Chicago Simeon (10-1) would outscore the Lady Giants 15-8 in the first quarter after Simeon had started the game on a 9-0 run. Canton tried to find a way to really push back at that 7-point Simeon lead, but even their best wasn't enough, as the Wolverines would hold a 32-20 advantage at the half. The offense really slowed down for both teams throughout the course of the third quarter, as Simeon would have a 39-22 lead with just one quarter remaining in this one. The offense would kick back into gear for both Canton and Simeon, but something had to give. Simeon's earlier, bigger leads turned out to be the difference, and despite a comeback at the near end of this one, Simeon would finish the game with a win over Canton, 51-38. The Lady Giants' Abby Swope lead their scoring with 8 points. Khaniah Gardner lead the Wolverines with 15 points.

Large School Girls - (4) Wheaton Warrenville South vs. (13) Chatham Glenwood 
The Wheaton Warrenville South Tigers (12-2) didn't get off to an ideal start, in fact falling behind the 13th-seeded Chatham Glenwood Titans (6-6) after the first quarter, 11-5. The Tigers were able to improve on the offensive side of the ball, but the early Glenwood advantage kept the Titans out in front at the half, 16-14. The Tigers pounced in the second half, starting with a 15-point third quarter, spreading the scoring output among four different girls. Glenwood didn't have an immediate answer for Wheaton Warrenville South, and that may have been what plagued the result of this one. The Tigers would hold a 29-20 lead after three quarters of play. The Titans tried to get back into the game in the fourth, but that quality third quarter from Wheaton Warrenville South put Glenwood in a rough situation. Down the line, free throws came aplenty, as both teams combined to go 12-18 from the stripe in the fourth quarter alone. Despite not coming away with a win, Makenzie Bray had a solid fourth quarter, finishing with 12 points, which was a team-high and tied for the game-high. Wheaton Warrenville South had three in double figures, paced by Mackenzie Stebbins, who finished with 12 points. The Tigers would hold on to defeat the Titans, 44-32.

Large School Girls - (5) Normal Community vs. (12) Geneseo
In the nightcap of the first day of tournament action, Normal Community (10-3) squared off against Geneseo (7-3). The Lady Iron finished the day with an offense like the day was just starting, holding an 18-6 lead over the Maple Leafs after a quarter of action. Things did gradually improve in the second quarter for Geneseo, the only issue being that Normal Community still maintained it's offensive rhythm that it had early on. Summer Stoewer, a signee to play in 18-19 at Illinois Central College, had 14 of her 18 in the first half. Riding a 20-point second quarter, the Lady Iron would double up Geneseo at halftime, 38-19. Normal Community's offense just keeped their foot on the gas, and the Lady Iron would come away with a 68-35 win over Geneseo. Normal Community had three girls in double figures, led by Summer Stoewer, who finished with 18 points. Hannah Himmelman finished with 9 points to lead Geneseo.

Day 2 (Large School Girls - All 12/28 games at Normal Community HS)
9:30 am | (11) Bloomington vs. (14) Mahomet-Seymour
11:00 am | (15) Chicago North Lawndale vs. (7) Rochester
12:30 pm | (12) Geneseo vs. (13) Chatham Glenwood
2:00 pm | (8) Canton vs. (16) Normal U-High
4:00 pm | (1) Peoria Richwoods vs. (9) Chicago Simeon
5:30 pm | (4) Wheaton Warrenville South vs. (5) Normal Community
7:00 pm | (2) Morton vs. (10) Normal West
8:30 pm | (3) Springfield vs. Chicago St. Ignatius

Alex Staab Contact Info | email: | Twtitter | @StaabAlex

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