Photo by Bill Roseberry
Allie Troeckler of the CM Eagles splits Triad defenders Feb. 4 in MVC action in Troy. The Eagles are hoping to get hot at the right time as they enter the Class 3A Salem Regional on Tuesday.
When the Civic Memorial girls’ basketball team begins Class 3A IHSA postseason play next week, the Eagles will have tradition on their side.
They are wondering if that will be enough to steer them through the course of challenging competition.
The Eagles, three-time regional champions — and sectional winners in 2014 — face a formidable field in the 3A Salem Regional field. They are seeded fourth in Sub-Sectional B, which includes Salem, Highland and Triad, the top three seeds, respectively.
“We need to be better defensively,” veteran CM coach Jonathan Denney said, surveying the playoff landscape. “But you are who you are and that’s why we are 4-4 in the Mississippi Valley Conference.”
The Eagles carried a 17-10 record and that .500 Valley record into their final week of regular-season action. Triad was 20-3 and Highland sported a 22-4 record. It appeared the Knights and the Bulldogs would divide the league spoils. The Bulldogs are the defending champs.
Elsewhere, Carbondale is rated No. 1 in Sub-Sectional A, followed by Benton, Harrisburg and Herrin. The final two teams in each sub-sectional advance to the Benton Sectional and that survivor earns a date to the Springfield Super-Sectional.
Triad coach Josh Hunt foresees a frantic fight to the finish in regional and sectional action. He said the sub-sectional with CM, Salem, Highland and the Knights is loaded.
“I was a little disappointed with seedings because I thought we would be in the argument for the No. 1 seed,” he said. “So it was kind of a letdown when Salem got the top seed. But the two teams seeded ahead of us — Salem and Highland — both are good.”
Denney pointed out, “You could have flipped a coin in seeding the top three teams.”
CM, which drew an opening-round bye, could match up with No. 5-seeded Effingham in the regional semifinals on Feb. 16. If the Eagles make it to the regional championship affair on Feb. 18, they likely would face Salem, a team they lost to 42-38 on Nov. 28 in the Salem Tournament.
Highland has defeated CM three times, including once at Salem. Triad swept the Eagles, but in those five losses to the Bulldogs and the Knights, the difference is a mere 22 points. When you throw in the Salem game, CM has six defeats to those three teams by a matter of 26 points.
“We need to buckle down and fix some little things,” Denney said. “And we need to start focusing on what we’re going to see in the postseason. We just need to move forward, keep chugging and get better.”
Once 3-4, the Eagles won 13 of their next 17 games, including a 5-game winning streak, and improved to 16-8. They then lost to Calhoun in the championship game of the Carrollton Tournament, beat Waterloo and bowed to Triad in MVC play. They concluded their regular-season schedule this week with games against Mascoutah and Jersey.
Class 3A All-Stater Allie Troeckler, a 5-foot-10 junior, continues to power the Eagles. She’s averaging 21.9 points and 8.3 rebounds. Katelyn Turbyfill, a 5-8 senior, is getting 6.2 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. Sophomores Kaylee Eaton (6.7 points) and Alaira Tyus (6.0), plus senior Journey Coffman (5.8), also are providing some punch.
“The good thing about going to Salem,” Denney said of the sub-sectional alignment, “is that we won’t see a Valley team.”
That could come once in Benton.
“There’s still a chance we could see Triad or Highland down the line,” Denney said.
He also remembers what happened last year. Highland defeated CM three times before the Eagles knocked off the Bulldogs in the Jersey Regional. CM owns a composite 98-28 record over the past 3 1/2 years, so the Eagles are counting on more late lightning once the second season begins.
Mascoutah, Centralia, Mount Vernon, Olney, Jersey and Cahokia are also cast in their sub-sectional.
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