BREESE — Something had to give when Roxana and Carlyle clashed Monday in the opening game of the Class 2A Breese Central Regional.
Both teams were reeling from long losing streaks. Thus, they were cast in a play-in game that somebody had to win.
The Shells gave more than they got and the Indians put the brakes on their skidding ways. They defeated Roxana, 64-55, to reach Wednesday’s semifinals against top-seeded Breese Central. The 3-25 Indians, who ended a 10-game slump, tangle with the Cougars at 6 p.m.
And Roxana called it a season. The Shells finished 9-18, losing their last 10 games. Their final loss featured flashes of production and moments of inconsistency.
“We didn’t come out with a sense of urgency on offense or defense,” Roxana coach Tammy Talbert said. “We were back on our heels.”
Carlyle led 16-8 by the end of the first quarter and 34-17 at half. The Shells stormed back in the third quarter, slicing the Indians’ lead to 36-27. Yet Carlyle extended its advantage to 55-35 and then fought off the Shells’ frantic fourth-quarter comeback. They closed to within 60-52 in the final 30 seconds.
“We got a couple of girls in foul trouble the first half and that hurt us,” Talbert said.
It also hurt that Carlyle’s Ashton Pieron, a 5-foot-10 senior, went wild. Pieron, averaging 9 points per game, poured in a game-best 24 points. She connected on 6 treys and hit 8 of 15 shots overall.
“She made a lot of uncontested shots at the top of the key and we hadn’t seen her do that,” Talbert said. “We had to go to a box-and-1 on her and then play man-to-man.”
Carlyle coach Darin Smith liked the way Pierson found the range and stirred the Indians’ attack.
“That was her season-high in scoring, but she is capable of doing that night in and night out,” Smith said.
Brooklynn Smith, a 5-8 freshman guard, pitched in 19 points, including 10 in the final quarter, to put the finishing touches on the Indians’ win. Kali Michael added 10 points as Carlyle made 19 of 42 shots and withstood 24 turnovers.
“It’s nice to get a win because our last win was during the Christmas tournament,” Smith said, referring to a 37-34 victory over Red Bud at Trenton Wesclin on Dec. 29.
He added, “But we play a tough schedule and I think our schedule helps us in a game like this one. This win will be a confidence booster.”
Sophomore Emma Lucas and junior Hannah Rexford tried to rally the Shells. The 5-6 Lucas scored a season-best 21 points, with 14 of them coming in Roxana’s 25-point final quarter. Rexford pitched in 14 points, including 8 of the Shells’ 9 points in the second quarter. Sophomore Sara Kreutztrager pitched in 10 points, all in the second half.
“Emma was sidelined (16 games) with a stress fracture and when she went out, that’s when we struggled and started losing,” Talbert said. The Shells were 8-6 at one point, then lost 12 of their last 13 games.
Talbert noted, “Emma’s really going to be a good player.”
She could have plenty of company. The Shells return their entire starting lineup and 13 of the players on their roster.
“I’m excited about the players we have coming back,” Talbert said. “Hopefully, we will keep building and mature. We need to handle contact better and become more physical.”
Following the Breese Central/Carlyle regional game Wednesday, it’ll be Belleville Althoff facing Trenton Wesclin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday’s winners play at 7:45 p.m. Thursday for the regional title. The champion advances to next weekend’s Trico Sectional.
CLASS 2A BREESE CENTRAL REGIONAL
CARLYLE 64, ROXANA 55
Carlyle 16 18 16 14 — 64
Roxana 8 9 14 24 — 55
Carlyle (3-25) — Ashton Pieron 24, Kali Michael 10, Brooklynn Smith 19, Bailey Hilmes 4, Molly Isaak 3, Gabby Madden 4. 2FG-13 3FG-6 FT-20 PF-21
Roxana (9-18) — Hannah Rexford 14, Sara Kruetztrager 10, Abby Palen 3, Cassie Vanzo 4, Dominique McDonald 3, Emma Lucas 21. 2FG-19 3FG-1 FT-14 PF-23