Sunday, December 23, 2018

Redbirds defeat LaSalle-Peru for Third Place

The Redbirds pose with the third place plaque following their 61-30 defeat of LaSalle-Peru. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
Ottawa, Ill. - The loss to Ottawa had ended Metamora's hopes of playing for a tournament championship, but they were still able to play for third. There was a five hour game in between start times of the Redbirds' (13-3) (3-1) respective games. They wouldn't know their opponent for a brief while either. Even though Kaneland defeated Riverdale, it turns out that forced a three-way tiebreaker, which came down to free throw percentage. That being said, it was the LaSalle-Peru Cavaliers (4-10) that had the highest percentage among themselves, Pontiac, and Riverdale.

With the sophomores conflicting in their two start times, the Metamora roster was trimmed quite a bit. It was down to eight players to be exact. That seemingly didn't matter. What did matter, according to Kaylee Hieronymus, was how that Ottawa game went. It still stung as of the start of the LaSalle-Peru game.

"We were really down after the Ottawa game. We knew we should've played a lot harder than we did."

The Redbirds got off to a fast start. In almost a perfect repeat of the Morris game, Metamora spread out the scoring to five players in just the first quarter. Certainly an interesting stat that showed right away, Metamora did not make a three in the first quarter, while making eight two-pointers. On the other hand, LaSalle-Peru made nothing but threes. The only difference was that the Cavaliers only made two from long distance. Metamora would already have a double figure lead after the first quarter of play, 18-7. 5th-year head coach Brianna Morrow had nothing but positives to say about how the start went, especially considering the Ottawa game.

"I thought our kids bounced back. It's tough to lose a game like that then bounce back. I was pleased with the effort they've put in. Three games in two days is a lot. They worked, they came out ready to go."

LaSalle-Peru found a way to storm back into the game. Just like the first, it was the three-ball that was working well for them. Three more fell in the second. It would get to the point where the Redbirds would call a 30-second timeout with 6:35 to go until halftime. Although it wasn't a quick return to how the game started for Metamora, it did come to fruition eventually. The Redbirds finished the half strong, behind a seven-point quarter from Reagan Begole.

The strong finish for the Redbirds, when combined with the quality start for the Cavaliers, equaled a game that was still a 12-point game in favor of Metamora.

Turns out, the Redbirds would once again do what they did against Ottawa in the first game of the day. No, not the first half, but the higher-scoring second half.

The Cavaliers did not keep their foot on the gas. The Redbirds ever so slightly let off. Anne Peters and Begole provided most of the effort offensively, but Kaylee Hieronymus and Alana Terry also scored as well. LaSalle-Peru mustered four points off a three and free throw. The Cavaliers would end up needing to pull off a 24-point comeback in the final quarter to come away with a victory.

Needless to say, they didn't make the comeback. In fact, it was much of the same for both sides. The Redbirds, with that aforementioned smaller roster, got six of the eight dressed players to score. Makenna Youngquist became the sixth player, scoring her four points in the final frame.

After the third quarter, the Redbirds already had three girls in double figures, but they decided they weren't done yet and that list got bigger. Anne Peters added one last two-pointer in the fourth quarter, and for the first time this season, and perhaps much longer than just that, the Redbirds got four players in double figures in the same game. Yet Begole says it's almost expected.

 "That's how we've always been. Everybody can score. That's not really a surprise to me. When we run, everybody is running. That creates opportunities."

Looking at how the Redbirds have been scoring is easy to do, especially considering they're out-scoring their opponents by roughly 15 points. Hieronymus, however, says that's not a concern.

"We're not really worried about who scores what, we're just worried about winning as a team, and we just focus on playing together."

By the time the buzzer sounded on the 2018 portion of Metamora's schedule, they would come away with third place, defeating the LaSalle-Peru Cavaliers, 61-30.

In one of the more well-rounded games of her season, Begole finished with the team lead in points (18), rebounds (7), assists (tied - 4), and steals (tied - 4). It wasn't just Begole in regards to the rebounding. The category seemed improved across the board for all the Redbird players. Coach Morrow agrees.

"It was a lot better. This game wasn't as physical as the Ottawa game. We were able to run and gun and transition a lot better. We worked the ball around really well offensively and got great shots."

We've made a error in research in games past. Now, for sure, the magic number is down to 1 for Metamora to clinch a winning season. To explain, we miscounted the number of regular season games, stating 25 when there are 27. 14 wins would thus clinch the winning season.

The days until the next game is a big one. Begole thinks that the extended break is coming at a good time.

"I think it's going to be pretty important. The next three days, get our minds off basketball, have fun with our families, focus on that, then we come back."

Coach Morrow basically paralleled Begole's answer, saying that the ability "to have a break to mentally recoup" will be big. 
The Redbirds have off game-wise until January 4th, when they play host to the Pekin Dragons.

Metamora Scoring: Reagan Begole (18), Alana Terry (12), Anne Peters (11), Kaylee Hieronymus (11), Alivia West (5), Makenna Youngquist (4)

Metamora Team Stats: 21 2's, 3 3's, 10-12 FTs, 8 fouls, 22 rebounds, 14 assists, 9 steals, 11 turnovers

Metamora Individual Leaders:
2's | Alana Terry (5)
3's | Reagan Begole (2)
FTs | Reagan Begole (4-4)
Reb | Reagan Begole (7)
Ast | Alivia West & Reagan Begole (4 each)
Stl | Alivia West & Reagan Begole (4 each)

Next Game:
Mid-Illini Conference Game
vs. Pekin Dragons (2-9) (0-4)
@ Toepke Gym - MTHS
7:00 pm tipoff
*No in-game updates*
*No TV or audio broadcast*

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