Friday, February 22, 2019

#1 Schlarman bests #2 Lewistown to reach Title Game

The Schlarman Hilltoppers huddle up just before tipoff of their State Semifinal on Friday afternoon against Lewistown. The Hilltoppers went on to win the game and advance to the 1A State Championship Game, 58-41. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
Normal, Ill. - It's hard being involved in compiling the Associated Press rankings for any sport. Those with a role are going to face criticism regardless of who's put where. Well, except for maybe those that compiled the 1A rankings.

On Friday afternoon at Illinois State University, the #2 Lewistown Indians (32-1) took on the #1 Schlarman Hilltoppers (32-2). Looking at how this one shaped up on paper, it would be a fairly evenly matched game.

It started as such. Almost exactly half way into the opening quarter saw the first team to make multiple shots in the game, with a layup by Schlarman's Anaya Peoples at the 4:01 mark being the Hiltoppers' second layup and it gave them a slim 5-4 lead.

Statistically, nobody would give an edge in the early-going. Points in the paint, second chance points, and fast break points were all within five points. Nothing major.

After the aforementioned layup by Peoples, there were only five more shots made between both the Hilltoppers and Indians the rest of the first quarter. Put that together and Schlarman would only have nine points after eight minutes, a far contrast from their 21-point first against Amboy in the Super-Sectional back on Monday.

The Hilltoppers' Capria Brown must not have liked how long it took for the scoring to hit a good clip at the game's beginning, as she went right to the hoop a mere 10 seconds into the quarter to pull within one of Lewistown.

Second quarter action started with somewhat of a parallel of the first, as shots were being traded back and forth. The game was within a basket for nearly the entirety of the second. That was, until Brown took over.

The junior, following a Peoples layup to make it 18-17 Lewistown, went on a personal 8-1 run with the Indians' Carli Heffren. A run like Brown's turned a one-point deficit into a six-point lead into the halftime locker room.

Granted, a six point lead in a game between two of the best teams Class 1A has to offer, especially considering how the game had played to that point, seemed like more than six to say the least.

It's the State Finals. There was still 16 minutes of basketball left to be played. The Hilltoppers just needed to get back to playing 'Schlarman Girls Basketball' as head coach Keith Peoples will tell you sometimes.

Schlarman did play their game, an element that sometimes isn't talked about as much - playing your game and not getting caught up in how the opponent is looking and fall into a trap of their style of play. Now, these two teams matched up well enough that perhaps that didn't matter.

A layup from Brown gave the Hilltoppers their first double figure lead of the afternoon, 32-22, at the 5:42 mark of the quarter.

Just when you think Schlarman had somewhat of a hold on the game, a three from Lewistown's Paige Bennett brought it back to a two-score game, 33-27.

Would this be a spot for a timeout? Actually, it would be, but Coach Peoples didn't have to use one, as it was the media timeout. That may have come at just the right time for the Hilltoppers.

A combination of the efforts by Brown, Peoples, and McKaylee Allen pushed it back to double figures, when a quality and-one play by Allen set the third quarter score of 41-29.

It became a matter of whether or not Lewistown would have one last big push in them to knock off the Hilltoppers.

Unfortunately for the Indians, that would do it. A pair of free throws by Brown gave the game its first 20-point advantage, as there was still just over half of the quarter yet to be played.

The Indians fought back to a degree, but to no avail, falling in the State Semifinal to Danville Schlarman, 58-41.

The Hilltoppers saw Anaya Peoples tally a double-double in the win, scoring 18 points and bringing in 11 rebounds. Capria Brown had a team-high 23 points, while McKaylee Allen's 11 wrapped up the double figure scoring for Schlarman.

#1 Schlarman will play #4 Lanark Eastland (31-4) tomorrow at 1:00 pm for the 1A State Championship.

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1 comment:

  1. Schlarman's worst half of basketball all season. Luckily they pulled it together against a tough Lewistown squad.