DECATUR — MacArthur's Taya Davis and Quincenia Jackson combined for 39 points as the Generals came back from 11 points down at halftime to win 47-40 over Normal University in a Central State 8 Tournament quarterfinals game.
Davis scored eight points in the first quarter and grabbed three steals as the Class 3A No. 9 Generals (8-1) had an early 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But the Generals were uninspired in the second quarter, scoring just one basket — a layup from Jackson — and fell behind by 11 at halftime, 23-12.
U High scored 6 points in the final seconds before the half on a 3-pointer by Kayla Peterson and three free throws by the Pioneers' Chloe Ward, who was fouled attempting a last-second shot before the halftime buzzer.
"At halftime, (MacArthur head coach Sean Flaherty) told us that we had to stop taking them as a slight team and stop thinking that we could easily beat them," Davis said. "We are seniors so we needed to play like we wanted to win."
Davis connected on a 3-pointer to open the second half and following a Generals steal, she added another layup. Jackson came alive as well and pushed the Generals on a 13-4 run that cut U High's lead to 27-25 at the at the 5-minute mark in the quarter.
MacArthur's Hayley Diveley hit a 3 to put MacArthur back in the lead 28-27, but another Generals' foul on a Pioneers shooter tying to making a long distance buzzer beater gave U High three chances at the line, and the score was tied 32-32 going into the fourth quarter.
The Generals took the lead 38-34 and continued to build it throughout the quarter as the Pioneers were never able to take back control of the game. The Pioneers and Generals played in the season opener back on Feb. 9, with MacArthur winning 53-39. Flaherty said he could see U High came ready to play.
"My thoughts are good teams find ways to win when you don't have your A-game," Flaherty said. "I reminded the girls that it is a tournament and U High (4-8) came in and were fired up and had a great game plan. We didn't come out with a lot of energy and I challenged them to come out in the second half with more energy."
Davis and Jackson flipped a switch in the second half.
"Q and I came out together and working more. We came out more way more focused than we did in the first half and we talked to each other more," Davis said.
Davis finished with 22 and Jackson had 17 in the Generals victory. MacArthur will play Springfield High at home on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Senators beat Chatham Glenwood 55-42 to advance on Tuesday.
Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten