JERSEYVILLE — The Civic Memorial Eagles girls' basketball team earned a 55-45 win over the Granite City Warriors on Monday night in the Lady Panther Holiday Tournament at Jersey High School.
Free throw shooting and a strong performance from junior forward Allie Troeckler made the difference. The Eagles shot 15 of 27 from the charity stripe while Troeckler finished the contest with 26 points. The win marked the second of the day, as CM (8-5) defeated host Jersey 52-37 Monday afternoon.
“I like working down low,” Troeckler said. “I like rising above people, too. So, that definitely helps.”
Troeckler finished the day with 63 points. She scored 37 against Jersey.
“She was an all-stater as a sophomore,” CM head coach Jonathan Denney said. “It’s no secret we like to get her touches. But she’s good at getting the ball on her own and she’s good in transition as well. We don’t always have set plays for her, but she’s a smart player. She stepped up big and had a good day today in both games.”
Denney also called free throw shooting one of his team’s strengths.
“We’re not a fast team and we’re not a great ball handling team,” he said. “We take care of the ball with passing and try to get the ball inside and when people double-down or triple-down on our inside then we try to find the shooters on the perimeter. Tonight, we didn’t shoot the ball well from the outside. But we kept with our strength and tried to keep getting the ball inside, especially when they got into foul trouble in the second half.”
Things weren’t rosy for the Eagles in the beginning. Granite City established a 16-7 lead in the first quarter.
“It is kind of the way we’ve been playing,” Denney said. “We haven’t been playing consistent. We’ve been good at times and bad at times. The inconsistency has been hurting us. That’s probably the reason why we’re 8-5. All in all, we’re not playing consistent for 32 minutes. I need to get better production from more kids than just one or two.”
CM chipped away at Granite City’s lead in the second quarter and tied the contest late in the frame. Alaira Tyus’ basket at the 1:39 mark made the score 26-26. Troeckler’s basket with two ticks left on the clock gave the Eagles a 28-26 lead, a lead CM would maintain until halftime.
The Eagles outscored the Warriors 11-8 in the third quarter. Tyus’ trey at the 6:11 mark ignited a 7-3 run and CM led 35-29 with 2:13 left in the quarter. Granite City didn’t score in the third quarter until Addaya Moore’s trey at the 2:43 mark.
“We had four or five minutes there where we didn’t score,” Granite City coach Whitney Sykes-Rodgers said. “That killed us. We go on those long stretches when we can’t afford to, especially when the other team is playing zone. With our size, it’s hard to get more rebounds unless the ball kicks out.”
Moore led the Warriors offense with 20 points.
Denney felt a change in defense made a difference.
“We were playing some different defenses in the first half and we went to a 2-3 (defense) in the second half,” Denney said. “We got into some foul trouble with 2-3 with the personnel we had in there. It gave them some fits for whatever reason so we just stayed in it for the rest of the half. I think it kind of took them out of their rhythm.”
Granite City pulled within a point (35-34) when Moore hit a three with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. However, the momentum would not be sustained. A technical foul against Sykes-Rodgers sent CM’s Kaylee Eaton to the line for four free throws. She sank all four and the Eagles led 39-34. Eaton finished the game with 13 points.
Sykes-Rodgers talked about CM’s size advantage when asked about her team’s defense.
“We’re a little undersized on the floor,” she said. “So it’s hard for us when they have an inside game like they do. When they get the ball inside, we have to do our best to hold our own and they can put it into (Troeckler) and she’ll score almost every time. She’s that good of a player. We did better on defense. We don’t play man often, but I felt against this team we could. I believe we could have done better in transition on defense other than the half-court defense itself. The half-court defense wasn’t bad. The transition defense is what we have to work on.”
CM went on to outscore the Warriors 16-11 in the fourth quarter. Granite City dropped to 2-7 with the loss. Calhoun defeated the Warriors 65-39 on Monday afternoon.
The Eagles continue pool play with a 1:30 p.m. Tuesday contest vs. Calhoun. GCHS is back in action against the host Panthers at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Placement games are on the docket for Wednesday.