Sunday, December 16, 2018

Redbirds get two wins Saturday; move to 11-2

The Redbirds huddle up just prior to tipoff of their game against Pontiac on Saturday afternoon. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
Ottawa, Ill. - It was a rough go of it for the Metamora Redbirds (11-2) (3-1) on Thursday, suffering a 29-point loss to the fourth-ranked Morton Potters. The 2018 Ottawa Lady Pirate Holiday Tournament provided the team with an opportunity to rebound with two games on Saturday.

10:30 am - vs. Serena - Pool Play
Bright and early, the Redbirds got to work against a small Serena (5-6) team. Although slow starts have been an issue in the past, Saturday was not the case.

In fact, it was just the second neutral game of the season for the Redbirds, with the only other one coming against Danville Schlarman.

Yes, the Redbirds got off to a fast start, but it was specifically Anne Peters who was feeling it early. The senior scored nine of her game-high 18 points in the first eight minutes, and propelled Metamora to a 19-7 lead after one.

In almost a mirror image of the first quarter, the Redbirds kept the momentum and it may just have went further their way. This time, it was Reagan Begole who had the quality quarter. She would drop almost all 11 of her points in the second quarter, posting four two-pointers to push the already big Metamora lead to 25 at halftime (35-10).

Serena's Maddie Holdiman came out ready to play in the second half. The only problem for the Huskers was that Holdiman was almost the entire scoring effort for her team on Saturday morning. She would score all but three of Serena's second half points.

Something that would become a theme in game two of the day, back and forth passing between two players from the opposing team. In this case for Metamora, it was back and forth scoring efforts between two players. In the first quarter, Peters, second quarter, Begole. Third quarter, it was back to Peters, who nearly doubled her scoring. She would finish with the aforementioned 18 point total in just three quarters.

With the Redbirds up 52-20 and eight minutes still left to play, it provided the opportunity for head coach Brianna Morrow to work in the entire roster. Saturday morning's game was the first time that all 15 rostered Redbirds saw action in the same game. Some girls may have already had a couple of games under their belts, but it was Jenna Hiller who got to make her varsity debut in the fourth quarter of the game. The Redbirds would go on to win, 54-28.

3:00 pm - vs. Pontiac - Pool Play
The doubleheader actually worked out quite well for the Redbirds. It wasn't a complete back-to-back. There was just enough time for the Redbirds to get refueled before their last game of the day, against a familiar foe in the Pontiac Indians (4-9).

We'll start by saying the Redbirds won. But it wasn't flawless.

A 21-point first quarter was one of the highest-scoring quarters by Metamora all season long. It's what followed where the flaws came in.

The Redbirds would combine for 22 points in the second, third, and fourth quarters combined. Thankfully for them, Pontiac nearly did the same thing until the fourth quarter.

First quarter action was paced yet again by balanced scoring. Six different Redbirds made their way into the scoring column early, and almost all of them had the same or close to the same scoring total.

An issue that came up in the remainder of the game was the opposite of the first quarter. Anne Peters scored 10 points in the second half. The rest of the team combined for 12 points in that same span. Something just didn't seem right for the Redbirds.

But they regrouped enough to hold off the Indians for a second time this season, and in round two, defeated Pontiac, 43-32.

The Redbirds are off game-wise for almost a full week before playing Morris on Friday, December 21st, at 7:30 pm.

Fast Break Notes:
- Do the math, and Anne Peters combined for 33 points in the two Saturday games. She is Metamora's leading scorer for the season, with 143 points, averaging 11.0 per game.
- The Redbirds have the magic number down to just two wins to clinch back-to-back winning seasons, something that hasn't happened since the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons.
- In 08-09, the Redbirds finished (20-12). In the 09-10 season, the Redbirds finished (19-12). Both seasons saw regional titles and losses to Peoria Richwoods in the Sectional title games.
- The Redbirds would clinch at least second place in their pool with a win on Friday night. But a big matchup with host Ottawa looms on Saturday, scheduled for a 12:00 pm tipoff.

They Said It | HC Brianna Morrow: 
On the Pontiac game as a whole
"It was pretty ugly, I will say that. I think we played about two and a half quarters of basketball, and then we just took our feet off the gas and coasted."
On heavy lead helping with still getting a W
"Oh, absolutely. Having the lead was crucial for us, because we were lucky."
On low-scoring second, third, and fourth quarters
"I think we got tired. We missed a lot of layups. I think our shot selection was poor. I don't think there was a lot of communication. We made a lot of bad decisions and a lot of bad turnovers."
On this week's practices
"We've got a lot of work to do defensively. We gave up I don't know how many open shots. Over-committing on defense. Not recognizing shooters. Not knowing personnel. We're not in shape enough to be able to press and play defense for four full quarters. Conditioning is a big factor for us."
On potentially clinching consecutive winning seasons before Christmas
"I can't really say we've played amazing basketball, but we're winning ball games."
On what (11-2) says, although they aren't playing "amazing"
"We've got a lot of weapons and we've got a lot of good kids. When someone's playing down, another kid steps up. The problem is that we have to be consistent on the defensive end and we've got to get everybody on the same page."

They Said It | #25, Anne Peters:
On Pontiac game
"Boxing out was a key for us. We need to do that a lot more often, especially when we had those posts blocking out. A lot of little key things we need to work on. That's what's just going to be drilled into us the next couple of days."
On big lead potentially being the reason for the win vs. Pontiac
"I think a little bit. When we had a huge run in that first quarter, then they started creeping back a bit in that second quarter, it helped going into halftime. Same thing in the third quarter. Had a rough run. I think it does help when you at least have a little stretch. At the same time, we still need to make sure we don't make those mistakes in the first place."
On potentially clinching a winning season before the holidays
"I think that says a lot about how really special and tough this team is. If we just get all those little pieces fixed together, I think, come postseason, we can make it really far. Having a winning season would mean a lot to Coach Morrow and a lot to this team, especially with all the hard work we try and put in every single day. It's going to be an awesome feeling when we clinch. We really want a regional championship. We have to worry about winning the championship for this tournament."

Metamora Scoring (vs. Serena - Game 1):
Anne Peters (18), Reagan Begole (11), Kaylee Hieronymus (9), Alana Terry (6), Lexi McClure (4), Katie Lalumandier (2), Makenna Youngquist (2), Alivia West (2)

Metamora Scoring (vs. Pontiac - Game 2):
Anne Peters (15), Kaylee Hieronymus (7), Katie Lalumandier (6), Reagan Begole (6), Alivia West (4), Lexi McClure (3), Alana Terry (2)

Next Metamora Girls Game:
Friday, December 21st
Pool Play - Ottawa Holiday Tournament
vs. Morris Redskins
@ Kingman Gym
7:30 pm tipoff
Updates | @MetamoraGBB
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