BETHALTO — Those small items are looming large lately for the frustrated Civic Memorial High girls’ basketball team.
Highland further aggravated the Eagles on Tuesday when the Bulldogs handed them a 52-46 defeat in a Mississippi Valley Conference game. The winners improved to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the Valley by posting their second victory over the Eagles this season.
Meanwhile, CM fell to 5-5 and 1-2 in bowing to Highland for the fifth time in its last six games. The Bulldogs defeated the Eagles three times in four games last season.
“There are a bunch of little things that we need to fix,” CM coach Jonathan Denney said. “We need to find a sense of urgency because I thought Highland played with more urgency than we did.
“They set the tone early.”
The Bulldogs shot in front 11-2, though the Eagles countered with a 10-point spree. Highland led 18-13 after the first quarter and 27-26 at half.
Katelyn Turbyfill’s basket with 2:01 to play in the third quarter gave CM its first lead at 35-33, but a 10-2 Highland spurt put the visitors on top for good.
The Eagles closed to within 49-46 on Allie Troeckler’s 3-point play with 28.8 seconds remaining in the game. However Amanda Ponce of Highland sank three free throws in the final 26.3 seconds to ensure the Bulldogs’ victory.
“She had a great game,” Denney said of the 5-foot-10 senior guard Ponce. She led all scorers with 23 points, one more than Troeckler, a first-team, Class 3A All-Stater last season.
Mike Arbuthnot, the Bulldogs’ head coach, lauded Ponce for her stellar showing.
“Ponce, in my mind, is an All-Stater,” said Arbuthnot, also the Roxana High softball coach. “She is our floor leader and plays with a lot of heart. And Amanda always steps up in the big game.”
Ponce tallied 16 first-half points, thanks in part to a pair of treys. Overall, she made 7 of 11 shots and 7 of 8 free throws. The Bulldogs converted 7 of 10 foul shots in the fourth quarter to secure their win.
“This game was a lot like the first game we played against them,” said Arbuthnot, referring to the Bulldogs’ 53-51 victory in the Salem Tournament. “We would go on a run of 4-to-6 points and then they would do the same thing.”
Caitlin Lammers added nine points to the Highland cause and reserves Abby Melosi and Katie Kampwerth teamed for seven points. The Bulldogs made 19 of 43 shots.
Troeckler logged half of her 22 points in the fourth quarter and Arbuthnot worried if the Bulldogs could counteract her scoring and contain her somewhat.
“She can take over a game and she about did that,” Arbuthnot said.
Teammate Kaylee Eaton punched in 10 points, with 9 of them coming on a trio of treys. All of Eaton’s scoring came in the first half. Troeckler accounted for 15 of CM’s 20 second-half points and all of the Eagles’ scoring in the fourth quarter.
“We had a lot of poor possessions and made some bad decisions on the offensive end,” Denney said. “We had opportunities, but didn’t make good decisions. Highland’s girls made a few more plays tonight.”
Denney said the Eagles will work on getting things right before they clash with Centralia on Saturday. After that, they compete in the Jersey Holiday Tournament.
“I’m just disappointed with our energy and effort,” Denney said. “We play hard in spurts and what we need to do is play hard all of the time.”
While CM dropped two games behind MVC leader Triad, winning Highland trails the Knights by a game.
“This was a big win for us because we still get both Triad and CM at our place,” Arbuthnot said.
HIGHLAND 52, CM 46
Highland 18 9 10 15 — 52
CM 13 13 9 11 — 46
Highland (7-3, 3-1) – Alex LaPorta 3, Amanda Ponce 23, Madison Wellen 6, Cailtin Lammers 9, Hayley Taylor 4, Abby Melosi 5, Katie Kampwerth 2. 2FG-16 3FG-3 FT-11 PF-16
CM (5-5, 1-2) – Allie Troeckler 22, Journey Coffman 6, Katelyn Turbyfill 3, Alaina Tyus 5, Kaylee Eaton 10. 2FG-11 3FG-6 FT-6 PF-16