By Mark Jurgena
The COVID-19 mandated mask break has become an interesting part of the 2021 high school basketball season in Illinois.
Last Saturday at Fletcher Gym, Edwardsville used the first three or so minutes of each quarter to their advantage during their 71-29 win.
For three quarters, Edwardsville outscored the Kahoks a combined 40-7 prior to the mask break. In the 4th quarter mostly reserves were used to finish the game.
If you take out the play before the mask break, the Tigers only held an 18-15 advantage over CHS through those initial three quarters.
“It’s tough to stay in the game,” said coach Colin Moore. “Out of all the teams we play, I know there are a lot of good teams in the Southwestern Conference, that’s probably the one that’s the hardest for us to match-up with…with the personnel we have. I want to play man because I think we are getting better at it, but unfortunately, they have 6-2 girls that can shoot it even when we’re on them.
EHS went 18-for-30 during that time before the mask break including five threes and two more conventional three-point plays.
“They’re a great shooting team and after their loss last week to O’Fallon, I knew they were going to want to put a statement out there to really let people know who they are,” Moore said.
That loss was a 60-41 defeat at O’Fallon. It snapped their 73-game SWC winning streak. It was only their second conference loss since the 2009-10 season. After beating CHS they are 164-2 in conference play during that span.
Edwardsville jumped out to a 12-2 lead before Ella Guerrero hit a runner at the 2:48 mark of the 1st quarter. Astacia Bush cut the Tiger lead to 14-6 at the end of one with a putback bucket.
The Tigers went on a 13-0 run before a basket by Jenna Scheller broke the string. Guerrero then hit two late threes to cut into the lead at the half.
After a quick three by EHS to start the 2nd half, Guerrero returned the favor with her third triple of the evening but it was all Tigers on the scoreboard after that.
Despite the lopsided score, CHS coach Colin Moore was pleased with the progress of his young squad. They had set some team goals for the game. One was to be under 15 turnovers for the contest, CHS committed 13. Their other goal was to get 20 rebounds against the much taller Tigers. CHS gathered 17 rebounds.
“We just talked about being smart, taking good shots,” he said. “Trying to get rebounds, which is something we are working on; trying to be more aggressive. We were at least close on those two goals so I’m happy about that.”
For the game, Guerrero had nine points to lead the Kahoks. Megan Janson scored five, while Scheller and Lucy Montgomery each scored four.
Bush had five rebounds for CHS. Scheller and Montgomery each pulled down three.
Sydney Harris led the Tigers with 25 points including 5-for-6 from three.
Collinsville 52 Granite City 32
Freshman Ella Guerrero scored a career-high 16 points to help Collinsville to a 20-point win at Granite City on March 4th.
“Ella is the type of player that once she finds a rhythm you can forget she is only a freshman,” Moore said. “She can make the type of shots that really get the team fired up.”
She went 4-for-11 from the floor, but was 3-of-8 from behind the arc. She also went 5-for-6 at the free throw line. She added three assists and a steal to her stat line as well.
Scheller, a sophomore, produced a double-double for the evening. She had 12 points on the night, on 6-of-10 shooting, and ripped down 10 rebounds.
“Jenna has been solid all year long. She is our leader offensively and once she gets going, our guards have more room to operate,” said Moore.
Point guard Megan Janson, also a sophomore, dished out three assists, had three rebounds and two steals.
“I am also pleased with the toughness that Megan Janson is bringing on the court,” Moore said.
O’Fallon 58 Collinsville 32
O’Fallon tuned up for their upset win over Edwardsville last Wednesday by beating Collinsville at The Panther Dome last Tuesday.
Three Panthers scored in double figures with Amelia Bell having a game-high 19 points.
Janson and Guerrero led the Kahoks with nine points apiece while Bush filled up the stat sheet with 10 rebounds. She also had an assist, a steal, and a blocked shot.
Scheller also had a solid stat line with six rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots, and a steal.
“O’Fallon is an amazing team and we showed some flashes of hanging tough with them,” said Moore. “Their ability to guard you at all five positions is amazing. Playing teams like that are always a challenge but make you better. They force you to do things as players you aren’t necessarily comfortable with.”
Kahok Notes: Saturday was the final home game for seniors Astacia Bush, Riley Doyle, and Orianna Givens.
“I told each one of them, they have left their mark on the program,” Moore said. “We’re going to try to win a couple more basketball games for them, but they’ve definitely shown the other girls how to play, so I appreciate that.”
This week marks the final week of the condensed 2021 basketball season. The Kahoks came into the week with a 4-10 mark. They played at Freeburg and at Belleville East Monday and Tuesday but results were unavailable at press time. This weekend the SWC conference tournament is set to finish the season for conference schools. Though nothing is official until after Tuesday’s games, Collinsville will likely have a return matchup with Edwardsville in the opening round.
Moore has been impressed with the progress of his young squad that routinely starts two seniors, two sophomores, and a freshman.
“We are finding our roles and it would have been nice to get some more practices and games in,” he said. “But we are meeting team goals and improving daily. (This is a) fun group of girls to coach and be around.”
O’Fallon entered the week at 11-1 while Edwardsville was 12-1 prior to the SWC
Tourney. EHS had won 67-62 in OT at home on February 25th.