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MOUNT ZION -- It was a slow start for MacArthur Tuesday in their Class 3A Mount Zion Regional semifinal with Eisenhower. 

The Panthers took an 11-7 lead after the first quarter and led 22-18 at halftime. 

This didn't sit well with Generals coach Mike Williams. 

“I think we left our defense at home at MacArthur in the first half. At halftime, I had to give them one of the infamous 'Dubb speeches,'" Williams said. "I challenged them and they came out and locked down on defense, and got us 22 points in the third quarter. That’s what changed the game around."

The Generals (23-8) outscored the Panthers 22-7 in the third quarter and then held Eisenhower to an even 14-14 fourth quarter to pick up the 11-point win. 

MacArthur's Quincenia Jackson had a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. She was also the center of the Panthers' defensive strategy. 

"I thought Q did a phenomenal job. Eisenhower had three girls around her the entire game and I just thought she outplayed them, and that’s not disrespecting anybody else. It’s just how well she played," Williams said. 

The Generals' Jayda Dees added 13 points as she approaches the all-time girls scoring record for the Decatur Public Schools. 

"Jayda was all over the place defensively. Along with her 13 points, she had eight rebounds, eight steals and five rebounds. She is now 30 points away from being the all-time leading female scorer in Decatur Public Schools history," Williams said. 

Williams also highlighted the important play from sophomore Taya Davis, who had nine points. 

"If we didn’t have Taya, we wouldn’t have our 23 wins. She takes all the pressure off of everybody. I’m on her case the whole game and she just goes out there and plays," Williams said. "I’ve got to give her a whole bunch of praise. That’s just how she was playing."

Eisenhower's Kyla Jones scored a team-high 14 points and Ariana Riley added nine points. 

MacArthur will face Paris in the regional championship Thursday at 7 p.m. at Mount Zion. 

"We’ve just got to play smart against Paris and apply pressure. When we apply pressure, we do well," Williams said. 

BOYS BASKETBALL

MacArthur 73, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 62

SPRINGFIELD -- Sacred Heart-Griffin handed MacArthur a tough 63-62 loss on Dec. 15.

Nearly two months later, the Generals got their revenge with an 11-point victory thanks to their adjusted defense in a Central State 8 meeting. 

“It was a very exciting, good game. They came prepared, but we came prepared also," MacArthur coach Ron Ingram said. "We made some adjustments from the last game against them, that we didn’t do last time we played them. The adjustments we made on defense helped us win. It wasn’t the offense, it was the defense."

MacArthur led 22-16 after the first quarter and extended the lead to 36-28 at halftime. A big fourth quarter that saw the Generals outscore the Cyclones 21-13 sealed the win. 

"We had five guys in double figures and another guy with nine. We just played great. It’s hard to talk about one person," Ingram said. "It was a team effort with the players and coaches. The guys are starting to learn how to win games and hold on to the lead through the games. It was a very balanced game.”

KJ Taliferro and Keon Jones led the Generals (14-12, 9-6 CS8) with 12 points, Kaeden Lawary added 11 points and Teandre Woodland and Skyllar Walker both had 10 points. AJ Lawson poured in nine more. 

Sacred Heart's Nick Broeker led all scorers with 22 points and Charlie Hamilton added 13 points. 

Normal U-High 66, Eisenhower 43

DECATUR -- What a difference a half makes. 

Eisenhower led Normal U-High 25-23 going into halftime but after the break it was all Pioneers in a Central State 8 matchup. 

“We played the best first half of basketball I’ve seen them play, both offensively and defensively. We stuck to our principles to a T. We had an excellent pace the first half. I was very impressed with the first half effort. We could have beat them if we’d kept it up the whole game," Eisenhower coach Rodney Walker said. 

The Panthers were outscored 43-18 in the second half the Pioneers ran away with the game. 

"In the second half, we kind of went away from what we were doing. Our defense wasn’t the same, and that led to the result of the game," Walker said. "We came out after halftime, our defense let up, and Normal kind of had their way with us.”

Lunden Cook led Eisenhower with 14 points and RJ Walker and Brylan Phillips each added 11 points, respectively. 

U-High's Nate Torres led all-scorers with 21 points and Drew Wollenschlager added 16. 

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Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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