SALEM — When the Civic Memorial girls’ basketball team found its mojo Tuesday night, the Eagles kept their groove going.
All it took was an 11-0 spree late in the second quarter and they sprinted to a 58-45 win over Effingham in a semifinal game of the Class 3A Salem Regional.
CM, which improved to 20-10 and celebrated its fourth consecutive 20-win season, closed out Effingham at 20-11. More important, the fourth-seeded Eagles advanced to Thursday’s 7 p.m. championship game at B.E. Gum Gym against host and top-rated Salem, a 50-32 winner over Mount Vernon in the first semifinal. The Eagles have snared three consecutive regional titles.
“We will have to shoot better against Salem than we did the first time,” said CM coach Jonathan Denney, referring to a 42-38 loss to the Wildcats on Nov. 28 in Salem. “But the biggest thing we will need to do is match their energy. Our effort will need to be off the charts in order for us to win because Salem will be motivated.”
All-Stater Allie Troeckler and sophomore reserve Tori Pfeifer made sure the Eagles had ample vitality against Effingham.
Troeckler, a 5-foot-10 junior, scored a game-best 27 points, including 16 in the second half. She also snared 9 rebounds. Pfeifer, a 5-11 sophomore, pitched in with 5 points to spur the Eagles when they widened their advantage over the Flaming Hearts.
“Tori Pfeifer came in and had a great game off the bench,” Denney said. “So did Cassie Hall. And we need players off the bench to do that because both Katelyn Turbyfill (ankle injury) and Kalyn Troxell (knee injury) are hurting. Tonight was as well as Tori has played all season.”
Troeckler added, “Tori is capable of doing that. She’s a strong player.”
Yet nobody was stronger than Troeckler. She made 10 of 18 shots and 7 of 10 free throws to give her 670 points this season and 1,809 for her career. Katie Broadway is the career scoring leader with 2,079 points.
Turbyfill (9 points), Journey Coffman (8 points) and Alaira Tyus (7 points) contributed to the cause against Effingham. CM made 19 of 44 shots and sank 17 of 22 free throws.
“We didn’t come out as strong as we could of, but then we got things going in the second quarter,” Troeckler said.
The Eagles led 33-16 at half and stretched their lead to 19 points in the fourth quarter. Troeckler made 6 of 7 shots and 4 of 6 free throws in her big second half to account for 16 of CM’s 25 points.
“I think I hadn’t been going strong enough to the basket in the first half,” Troeckler said.
Then it changed.
“She’s such a good offensive player and she played a great game,” Effingham coach Jeff Schafer said of Troeckler.
He said CM’s strength played a pivotal part in the Eagles getting a comfortable lead and maintaining control.
“It was our speed against their size and we didn’t shoot it very well,” he said. “We missed a lot of free throws in the first half and that forced us to try and play catchup against them.”
The Flaming Hearts connected on just 6 of 20 shots and 2 of 8 free throws in the first half. Their 5-point second quarter put them in a deep hole by halftime. Effingham trailed 22-16 midway through the second quarter before CM went on its 11-0 binge
Overall, the Flaming Hearts made 15 of 42 field-goal attempts and were 6 of 16 from the foul line. Carsyn Fearday, a 5-6 freshman guard, scored 17 points, best for Effingham. She had 3 of their 6 treys.
“They (Flaming Hearts) never quit,” Denney said. “They battled us hard in the second half. You aren’t going to run into a soft team at this point of the season.”
Thursday’s regional champ advances to next week’s Benton Sectional and meets the Columbia Regional winner at 7:30 p.m. Monday. The Triad and Marion Regional winners clash at 6 p.m. Monday. All regional title games are Thursday night.
CLASS 3A SALEM REGIONAL
CM 58, EFFINGHAM 45
Effingham 11 5 16 10 — 42
CM 16 17 14 11 — 58
Effingham (20-11) — Carsyn Fearday 17, Marranda Steffen 11, Aly Armstrong 3, Shelby Myers 8, Miranda Fox 3. 2FG-9 3FG-6 FT-6 PF-17
CM (20-10) – Allie Troeckler 27, Journey Coffman 8, Kaylee Eaton 2, Katelyn Turbyfill 9, Alaira Tyus 7, Tori Pfeifer 5. 2FG-16 3FG-3 FT-17 PF-18