TUSCOLA — The Tuscola girls basketball team took a big early lead and cruised to a 50-29 win against Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond on Monday.
The Warriors (14-3) led 16-5 after a quarter and increased their lead to 29-14 at half.
Tuscola's offense was led by Alexis Koester, whose 16 points included four of the Warriors' five 3-pointers. The Russo sisters controlled the paint — Cassie had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Lexie added eight points and 11 rebounds.
For ALAH, Hannah Wallen and Kyla Carson each had 10 points.
Pana 65, Neoga 44
NEOGA — After returning from a two-and-a-half week break with a sloppy performance in a win against Roxana, Panthers coach Jason Storm was much happier with Pana's win against Neoga.
The Panthers took control early with a 20-10 advantage in the first quarter.
"We got back to playing our style of basketball," Storm said. "We were back to playing how we were before Christmas. Our energy was great all night and that carried us in the game. Our press was very good and we ran very well. We did a great job pushing the ball and looking ahead for our teammates."
Pana had four players in double figures led by Aubrey Funneman with 17 points, including three 3-pointers, Maddie Ashcraft with 16, Shania Schoonover with 13 and Claire Holthaus with 11.
Charleston 83, Taylorville 49
CHARLESTON — For the 10th straight game Charleston earned the sweet taste of victory, scoring the game's first 11 points in the opening 1:22 and never trailing in improving to 17-1 overall and 6-1 in the Apollo Conference.
Charleston coach Jeff Miller had been concerned going into the game about not having played in 10 days — since beating Effingham in the finals of the Charleston Holiday Tournament.
"Before the holiday tournament we had 10 days off and after the holiday tournament we had 10 days off," Miller said. "I was a little worried we would spend a half knocking the rust off so to speak, but the girls came out and executed our game plan. I am very excited for our team."
Charleston freshman Shae Littleford, who was averaging 18.6 points, scored 18 in the opening quarter with lightning quick drives to the basket. Littleford finished with a team-high 27 points, a season-best.
"We got out of the box pretty quick and had a good start," Miller said. "Defensively I thought we did an outstanding job. We scored a lot of points in transition. That is what we do — get out and run. Shae Littleford did an incredible job getting to the rim. We live and die with the team concept and I thought we did an outstanding job playing as a team tonight."
Littleford was 10-of-12 from the field in the first half with 25 points, leading the Trojans to a 51-25 lead at the break.
Lincoln 50, Mattoon 38
MATTOON — For the second time this season, Mattoon was able to give one of the top Apollo Conference teams a battle through a half. The first time was against Charleston when the Green Wave had a halftime lead on the Trojans before Charleston pulled away in the third quarter and went on to win.
On Monday, the Green Wave (8-12, 1-5 Apollo) went into halftime tied at 20 against a 12-win Lincoln team with only one Apollo loss.
But just like the Charleston game, Lincoln found a way to pull away in the third quarter.
Mattoon had lost to Lincoln earlier this season by 30 points.
“We came in with a game plan and I thought our girls did a good job of executing it,” Mattoon coach Amanda Aydt said. “(Lincoln) went on a run in the third quarter and they hit some big shots with a hand in their face. Lincoln is a good basketball team. You’ve got to give them credit.”
Lincoln’s defensive pressure helped keep Mattoon’s offense off-balance in the second half. The Railsplitters (13-3, 5-1 Apollo) forced 24 turnovers in the game, including 14 in the second half.
“That’s a great defensive effort,” Lincoln coach Taylor Richmond said. “I am proud of our kids for moving their feet and getting after it and setting the traps the way we are suppose to be doing.”