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BETHANY — The Central A&M girls basketball team had followed this script before.

The Raiders and Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg were tied 14-14 after a basket by the Hatchets' Nikki Trussell at the start of the second quarter.

But A&M went on a 16-2 run and blew the game open on its way to a 74-39 win at Thursday's Class 1A Bethany Regional championship.

The regional title was A&M's sixth in seven years.

"We packed it in (a 2-3 zone) because Megan Schlechte is so dominating," said Central A&M coach Tom Dooley. "We could not guard her man-to-man. That is how dominating she is. Unfortunately, we had to guard her as a group and the 2-3 zone worked. It was a challenge for us and we didn't handle it easy at times, but we rebounded really well out of it (41-30 Lady Raiders won the rebound battle) and I thought that was a big key to the game and Channing Reed (5-10 junior) was a big part of that (16 points and 14 rebounds for a double-double)."

Central A&M (20-9) will play Altamont on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Central A&M Sectional.

"We are going to have our hands full against Altamont," said Dooley. "We have played them once and were fortunate enough to beat them but the postseason is a different season."

WSS finished with its best-ever record of 22-6. 

WSS never led as Central A&M started strong with the game’s first 7 points, including a 3-pointer by Channing Collins. The Raiders were 4-of-5 from the field against WSS's man-to-man defense, taking a 10-2 advantage just 2:22 into the game. 

The Hatchets battled back and tied the game on the first basket by  Trussell on a putback to start the scoring in the second quarter. 

Central A&M's run began with a basket by Haylee Virden followed by a 3-pointer by Brenah Durbin, who would make five in the game. Virden's layup made it 21-14 and after a bucket by WSS's Megan Schlechte, Durbin canned another 3-pointer. Virden scored and then made a pass to Allie Dunn for two after one of 19 Hatchet turnovers. A putback by Mikayla Denton pushed the lead to 30-16 before Trussell ended the scoring in the half with a 3-point play. 

"They had a key run in the second quarter to go up by 14," said WSS coach Mariah Bolin. "At halftime we had that discussing how it could change either way, but we have to make sure we try and shift momentum. They (Central A&M) came out and got excited and every basket they were hitting and their girls were off the bench and it was just rolling their way. We had the discussion before the game and at halftime that there is a difference between losing and getting beat. In the first quarter, we lost. we had effort, we just lost. In the second quarter, we got beat. 

It was 33-21 early in the second half when Central A&M erased any doubt as to the winner of the game, making 10 of 11 shots in the final 5:15 of the third. 

"We shot the ball well," said Dooley. "We intentionally tried to speed up the game and get transition buckets and fortunately we were getting that and shooting the three really well (3-of-5 in the quarter and 10-of-24 for the game). It was a big quarter for us."

Reed scored 14 points in the second half or Central A&M. Durbin finished with 15 and Collins was also in double digits with 13 for the game. The Raiders were 16-of-24 from the field in the second half with many baskets coming off assists. 

Bolin said, "We talked about adjustments at halftime and they are just a very athletic team. It doesn’t matter who he has on the floor. They didn't have the traditional three guards two post player matchup and that kind of killed us a little."

The Lady were led by Schlechte and Trussell with 17 and 16 points respectively. Both are seniors as is Katrina Davis and Jocelyn Schultz. 

"It was a hard fought game on both teams part and they hit a boatload of 3s and there is not much you can do about that," said Bolin. "They have very quick release times on their shots and that worked in their favor. '

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Contact Monahan at (217)-238-6854. Follow him on Twitter: @monahanmikejgtc.


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