Salem, IL- Fresh off a come-from-behind win over Civic-Memorial earlier Saturday afternoon, the Lady Wildcats carry over their aggressive and suffocating defense into their win over Centralia, 44-29.
The Orphan Annies were limited to only 4 points in the first quarter, 14 for the half. Foul trouble early on led to many free throw opportunities for both teams, but the Lady Wildcats took advantage knocking down 10 of 14 to help them to a 12 point halftime lead.
At the end of the first half, Salem junior guard Emily Baer led all scorers with 9 points. Junior forwards Dearria Watson and Kelly Sager each had 6, and guard Maddi Hood had 3. Centralia's leading scorer after the first half was Reanna Hutton with 5 points.
The third quarter saw the Lady Wildcats continue their smothering defense on their way to extending the lead at the end of the quarter to 18 points, 39-21. The perimeter pressure was there all night and it created a lot of turnovers by Centralia, which led to many fast break opportunities and easy points for Salem.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Salem really slowed down the tempo offensively and kept that form till the end of the game. With about a minute and half left and a sizeable lead, Coach Janet Holst pulled all five starters from the game and let some of the sophomores dribble out the clock.
Watson finished the game with 10 points, Emily Baer, 9, Kelly Sager, 8, Kailey Beer, 6, Shelby Holst and Maddi Hood, 5, and Sydney Holst had 1.
After the game, when asked about the team's play on offense and defense, Coach Holst said she was pleased. "I'm very impressed with all of them in all different aspects."
Coach Holst also talked about the play of junior forward Dearria Watson and the confidence her teammates have in her abilities. "I thought we did a better job of moving her up away from the basket, cause she plays well facing the basket, giving her a better look to get to the basket. She did have a height advantage and made her presence."
Holst then added, "When Shelby or one of the guards throws the ball up to her, you pretty much know she's going to haul it in."
Looking ahead to next weekend for the conclusion of the Thanksgiving tournament, out of the winners bracket, the Salem Lady Wildcats (3-0) will take on the Teutopolis Lady Wooden Shoes (2-1) at 1:30 Saturday afternoon.
Coach Holst briefly discussed the Shoes' strengths and weaknesses. "They will be fundamentally sound. I know that they're going to shoot the ball well if we give them open looks. I think our pressure cn give them some trouble. They do things really well against a zone because they can get set and they can look," said Holst. "I think we have a little advantage quickness-wise and a little bit of a height advantage inside. I feel confident in our kids."
The other game out of the winners bracket will be Highland and Civic-Memorial Saturday as well. Highland finished pool play a perfect 3-0 while the Lady Eagles finished 2-1.
The final scores of the weekend for the Salem Lady Wildcats:
vs Olney W 53-42
vs Civic Memorial W 48-39
vs Centralia W 44-29
In other high school girls basketball action:
Breese Mater Dei 35, Jerseyville Jersey 18
Calhoun 69, Alton 35
Springfield Lanphier 42, Cahokia 38
Columbia High School Tournament
Lebanon 54, Alton Marquette 36
Greenville 44, Waterloo 42
Litchfield 51, Mount Olive 34
Nokomis 55, Vandalia 43
Benton 57, Marion 38
Carterville 58, Vienna 35
Breese Central 55, O'Fallon 18
Centralia 54, Olney 50
Auburn 54, Jacksonville 48
Effingham St. Anthony 36, Mt. Zion 32
Effingham St. Anthony 60, Eisenhower 39
Hillsboro 43, Mt. Zion 38
Hillsboro 53, Eisenhower 39
Lincoln 57, Jacksonville 50
Taylorville 52, Auburn 21
Taylorville 45, Lincoln 39