DECATUR — Monday night was all momentum. For Argenta, for it’s senior Kandie Bloch, a consistent rhythm was difficult to find.
But when Argenta and Bloch were on, they couldn’t be stopped. Those spurts built up enough of a cushion for the Bombers to beat Cerro Gordo 49-48 on Monday in the first round of the Class 2A St. Teresa Regional.
Argenta put three different shooters on the line late in the fourth quarter to combine to hit five of its last eight free throws, but it was Kandie Bloch 34 points made the difference.
Bloch made Argenta’s first 15 points, including 11 in the first 1:20 of the game. Between anticipation and quick hands, Bloch was able to force three turnovers, turning every steal into a score.
“I was super pumped up, hitting the first 15 points in the first quarter,” Bloch said. “Who wouldn’t be pumped about that? I was pumped and then (Cerro Gordo) called timeout which kinda took it away. But we kept fighting, which was good.”
In a team full of juniors and sophomore, Bloch is the lone senior playing in her final postseason run. And with a full ride to Illinois on a track and field scholarship, she’s not ready for her basketball career to end.
“I want to keep the season going. I don’t want this (game) to be my last,” Bloch said. “Yeah, I mean this would be my last actual game I’d ever play. I was kind of thinking about that — that’s what kept me pumped up.”
Argenta coach Jeff Shumate said playing Cerro Gordo a couple times earlier in the season gave them some insight to the defense against Bloch.
“We worked up some stuff for the box-and-1 that we knew Kandie was going to see,” Shumate said. “Some of the stuff worked and some of it they changed up and kind of stacked two girls out top that the girls weren’t ready for.”
Cerro Gordo fought back after the first quarter to take a five-point lead in the middle of the third quarter. Arionna Gant and Jessica Blunt planted themselves underneath the hoop, grabbing 20 rebounds between the two to give Broncos’ possessions new life.
It was almost enough, but an outside game for Cerro Gordo didn’t come until it was too late.
“They jumped out to a good lead on us. We weren’t quite ready for them obviously,” Cerro Gordo coach Eric Helms said. “We made some adjustments on (Bloch) and we held her to zero points in the second quarter and we got on a good run.”
“We just ran out of time there at the end. It was kind of like them at our place last time. We came back strong, but ran out of clock.”
St. Teresa 76, Warrensburg-Latham 51
Maranda Archer threw up a couple shots and they found the net. So she just kept shooting.
The senior made 9 of 11 from the field, and brought in eight rebounds to boost the Bulldogs to a convincing first-round win against the Cardinals.
So where did the shooting stroke come from?
“I don’t know. I was just hitting all my shots tonight,” Archer said. “And when I hit my shots, I play a lot better defensively. So it felt so good out there.”
The Bulldogs’ Ann Duncan had another impressive performance as well, draining seven 3s to fuel a 31-point performance — her second 30-plus performance of the season. The victory comes at the end of a turn-around month for the Bulldogs, who started the season 3-9.
“A complete turnaround from the beginning of the season,” Duncan said. “We’re a different team than what we were. We’ve worked more as a team together and not as individuals, so it’s good.”
Opening up the floor
St. Teresa is a much different team from the start of the year. Many of Duncan’s points came off the dribble early in the year because teams would guard her tightly at the 3-point line. Warrensburg tried trapping her early, but after Archer started hitting shots, it opened up the floor for Duncan. Whether it’s Shae Genenbacher’s 3-point shot or Shannen Quehl inside, the Bulldogs have a couple of options that have been playing better of late.
It doesn’t hurt to have Amy Duncan back at point guard now either — she finished with seven assists on the night.
A final farewell
Arionna Gant played her final high school game much like every other — with plenty of rebounds and a couple blocks. The senior had 11 boards on the night, getting three baskets from offensive boards to go toward her 19 points.
Gant finished as Cerro Gordo’s record holder for rebounds and blocks.
“I’d have to say I’m really proud of what we’ve done. I’m proud of all my teammates and what they’ve brought to the team. I couldn’t have asked for a better four years of high school.”
There’s no rest for Argenta and St. Teresa, as they resume tonight.
Shumate said after seeing Clinton for the first time last week, he knows he can’t let the Maroons get off to another quick start.
“Very good team,” Shumate said. “We played them last week for the very first time and played hard against them. Same type of thing against them. They had a run in the first quarter where they got ahead of us, so we we’re playing catch-up for the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs will try a third time to beat Maroa.
“I think the key with Maroa is we have to get out on shooters and we have to rebound,” St. Teresa coach Brianna Morrow said. “They are great, great rebounders, and we just got to step up and take care of the boards.”