CHARLESTON — For the sixth year in a row, Charleston and Effingham battled it out at Baker Gym, each trying to clinch the championship title in the annual Charleston Holiday Tournament on Friday.
After losing to Effingham for their only loss of the season, the Trojans pulled off an upset victory during the 25th holiday tourney, handing the Hearts their first loss with a 67-57 win.
"We ran into a buzz saw," Effingham coach Jeff Schafer said.
The Trojans began the game with a layup by freshman Shae Littleford’s 30 seconds in, and Littleford’s efforts continued with an assist to senior Hope Griffin to score a layup of her own just 30 seconds later. Charleston junior Bernie Jackson hit a 3-pointer to make it 9-0.
"They made everything," Schafer said. "We did a good job of weathering the storm, but we got down by too many."
The Hearts responded with just three minutes left in the quarter with a layup from junior Carsyn Fearday. Charleston’s defense continued to excel in the quarter, only allowing Effingham to score 5 more points to maintain a 17-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Trojans led 34-21 at half, and increased the lead in the third with Paige Swango hitting her fourth 3-pointer of the game and Littleford also knocking down a 3 to push the lead to 21.
Effingham’s Fearday responded in the last minutes of the third with 3-pointers of her own, sparking a run that cut Charleston's lead to eight points. Effingham later cut the lead to two, but Charleston had the final run.
“We talked prior to the game just about having a complete game,” Charleston coach Jeff Miller said. “We’ve just not put together 32 minutes all year — we’ve had good games but not a complete game. This was pretty close to a complete game.
“We shot the ball really well tonight, and our defense played as well as we have all year.”
Fearday finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists, but it wasn't enough.
"They made a few plays we didn't," Schafer said. "We will use this to get better."
For her performance during the tournament, Swango was honored as the tournament MVP.
“It feels great to finally win it," Swango said. "We started the game really well by playing good defense. That was our key tonight.”
Galesburg 42, Mattoon 29
MATTOON — After the first game of pool play for Mattoon and Galesburg at the Mattoon Girls Holiday Tournament, playing in the title game was the least of either team’s worries. Mattoon lost to Olney 47-38 and Galesburg fell to Salem 30-27.
But both teams found a way to bounce back, Mattoon defeated St. Anthony in its second game of the day on Wednesday and then defeated Vandalia on Thursday to advance to the semifinal.
Galesburg won its second game on Wednesday, but lost its game on Thursday. Still, based on tiebreakers, the Silver Streaks earned a spot in the semifinal.
Then both teams won their semifinals, setting up a rematch of last year’s title game.
But unlike last season when Mattoon won the title, the fortunes flipped as Galesburg won the tournament championship.
Even with the title loss, Mattoon coach Amanda Aydt liked how her team improved after the first game of the tournament.
“I am very proud of the girls. We got better this tournament,” Aydt said. “We made improvement, some adjustments and the girls had a good tournament, I am proud of them. We made strides in the right direction. Galesburg is a good basketball team. They are well coached.”
Mattoon fell to 7-11 with the loss. Mattoon’s Ashlyn MacDonald was named to the All-Tournament team along with Sullivan’s Esther Miller.
Eisenhower splits two games
COLLINSVILLE — Everything Eisenhower does revolves around energy.
When the energy is up, it sparks the Panthers, when it’s down, the Panthers struggle to put it together.
No matter the 10 a.m. tipoff Friday morning at the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic, the Panthers found their energy in a 53-38 consolation round win against Granite City.
Yansyn Taylor scored 18 points and went 10 of 10 from the free-throw line for the Panthers and Keon Jones had 19 points and nine rebounds.
“Keon was being aggressive,” Eisenhower coach Rodney Walker said. “In the first game, he wasn’t aggressive at all.
“We’ve just got to get these guys clicking at the same time. Sometimes if one person will go off, another person will go to sleep. When we played Peoria, everybody was awake.”
Taylor’s four steals sparked the defense, which forced 22 Granite City turnovers.
“He was being more aggressive and being assertive,” Walker said. “When we have that type of energy, we get those type of results. We just didn’t have it the first game.”
The cold-shooting woes continued for Eisenhower. The Panthers shot 31 percent from the field and 69 percent from the free-throw line.
Prior to the Panthers’ (4-5) game Friday night, sharpshooting freshman RJ Walker had been held without a 3-pointer.
But Rodney Walker isn’t concerned.
“We’ll get it together,” Rodney Walker said. “We’re not shooting the ball great at all here for some reason. Our touch is just off from the 3-point line and the free-throw line. We shoot the ball way better."
In Eisenhower's second game, it lost to Belleville East 58-55. Three-pointers were again an issue — the Panthers made just 2 of 17.
Effingham St. Anthony 49, Flora 38
VANDALIA — Effingham St. Anthony completed an undefeated run at the Vandalia Holiday Tournament by beating Flora in the title game — even on a night when the Bulldogs (13-2) didn't shoot their best.
"It was a hard fought game by both teams," St. Anthony coach Cody Rincker said. "We didn't play very well the first half. We shot 28 percent. We played good enough defense to keep us in it. In the second half, we got to the hoop a little more. Our defense really picked up and held them to 12 points in the second half.
Cade Walsh had 12 points — one of three St. Anthony players in double figures. But Rincker said it was the defense of Walsh and Alex Deters that was the difference.
"They made it difficult for them to get any kind of rhythm," Rincker said. "We were able to get enough threes and free throws down the stretch to take care of it."