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Effingham's Carsyn Fearday guards against Lincoln in a game earlier this season.

Submitted photo

EFFINGHAM — There is no stage too big for Carsyn Fearday.

When the Effingham girls basketball team laces up for a game with heavy implications, Fearday steps up.

In the Hearts' third battle this season against Charleston last Monday — a game that shaped the Apollo Conference race — Fearday came through with 24 points in Effingham's win.

On Jan. 26 against Class 2A power, and rival, Teutopolis, she scored 23 points in a win.

Even in the lone losses for the Hearts (27-2), she stepped up — she had 16 points against Lincoln on Jan. 23. Fearday scored 19 in Thursday's win to seal the first Apollo Conference championship for Effingham since the 2013-14 season, and Fearday's first conference championship.

On Dec. 29, Fearday had 23 points against Charleston in a loss and dropped in 10 points back on Dec. 4 in a win against the Trojans.

"They’re obviously huge games and games we need to win," Fearday said. "Every game I play the same. I know in those games I need to do a lot more to help my teammates and they do a great job of getting me the ball. I work as hard as I can to get open and drive to the basket and get my points."

Fearday, who scored her 1,000th point this season, is averaging 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals for the Hearts, who open the Class 3A Rantoul Regional at 6 p.m. Wednesday against either Urbana or Tolono Unity.

Last year she scored more than 20 points per game against state-ranked teams, more than her season average of 15 as a sophomore.

"She kind of knows when it's big time," Effingham girls basketball coach Jeff Schafer said. “I always think that when it's on the line, that's when your special players rise to the occasion. She’ll be the first one to say that her teammates do an awesome job of getting her the ball."

Those teammates are more the gas to the fire for the Hearts, and Fearday, than they are affable sidekicks.

Schafer has what he calls a "starting eight" as opposed to the typical five. All of them, with the exception of Bria Barr, have scored in double figures this season, and she poured in nine during a game.

The system isn't designed for eye-popping numbers, but rather balance.

"It’s going really well," Fearday said. "I'm trying to work within the offense and do what I’m supposed to do to help my team."

How would she draw up a defense against her own team?

"I don't know. We’re so deep. Anyone can come off our bench and score. It doesn't matter who starts at this point. You can’t just guard two people or someone else is going to step up. I love it," she said.

There was no shortage of expectations coming into the season. After winning a regional championship last year before losing to Mattoon in the sectional semifinals, the Hearts knew they had unfinished business.

Then, Abby Weis transferred back from St. Anthony to give the Hearts another scoring threat.

So far, the Class 3A No. 6-ranked Hearts are knocking off pre-season goals one by one before the postseason.

"It's their resiliency and their composure," Schafer said of his team managing lofty expectations. "They never seemed to change the way they play. They play the same way the first possession as they do the last.

"Some games that have totally gotten physical, they've got kicked, and other teams lost composure out there. We stayed with it. Those girls are battle tested."

That resilience starts with Fearday, who is just as comfortable hoisting the potential game-winning shot as she is passing it off to a teammate for a better shot.

A similar situation arose in the first half against Charleston. It didn't come with the game on the line, but every point was crucial in the overtime affair.

When the Trojans darted out to slow the four-out offense Effingham ran, Fearday dumped the ball into Barr for an easy layup.

In the postseason, when the each game is under a microscope, Fearday and the Hearts won't waiver.

"It's awesome to know that they trust me and I have to step up and make a big play," Fearday said. "In the end, if I do need to give it to one of them, I can. That’s another thing with the depth.

It's all about the best shot for the Hearts.

"No absolutely not," Fearday said of if she has to take the final shot. "I’m not thinking that I have to make the play here. If a defender steps up, I’m going to dump it down to one of my teammates and let them score."



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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