Photo by Caleb Motsinger
CM senior Megan Trost scoring in the post during the Eagles sectional win over Carbondale. She had ten points in CM's loss to Quincy-Notre Dame.
DECATUR – Their dream season came to an end sooner than they sought. Yet the Civic Memorial Eagles didn’t go out without a fight Monday in the Decatur Class 3A Girls Basketball Super-Sectional at Millikin University.
They wobbled at the start in a scoreless opening quarter before regaining their balance, though it wasn’t quite enough. CM suffered a 42-27 defeat to defending state champion Quincy Notre Dame.
While the 29-3 Raiders go on to the IHSA semifinals at Illinois State University in Normal this weekend, the Eagles call it a season. Nevertheless, it was a successful one that finished 31-3.
“The first quarter was our worst eight minutes of the season,” CM coach Jonathan Denney said. “But we played toe-to-toe with them (Raiders) after that.”
Quincy ND angled for a quick getaway and got it. Thanks to a sturdy defense, the Raiders led 12-0 after the opening quarter. CM went 0-for-6 with its shooting and made eight turnovers in failing to score.
“In a big game like this, you have to set the tone early and we did that,” Raiders’ coach Eric Orne said. “We knew they (Eagles) would pressure us, so we pressured them by going after their guards. Our strength is our defense.”
Denney said that whatever could go wrong went wrong for the Eagles at the outset.
“Their pressure was pretty good and we might have been a light tight,” he added. It was CM’s first appearance in a super-sectional, now considered an Elite Eight game. The Eagles captured their first sectional championship Thursday in Carbondale.
“We didn’t take what they were giving us and I think we got caught up in the moment a little too much,” Denney said.
Megan Trost’s layup 36 seconds into second quarter gave CM its first points. The Eagles did get to within 16-8 midway through the quarter, but trailed 23-12 at half.
“I thought we had a chance when we were able to cut it to eight points,” Denney said.
Quincy ND stretched its advantage to 40-21 late in the game before the Eagles provided their final burst. However, the statistics told the story.
CM made only 11 of 30 shots, or 37 percent, and committed 25 turnovers, or 14 more than Quincy Note Dame. The Eagles outrebounded the Raiders 30-19, but their inability to ignite their attack or score hounded them most of the way.
In addition, the Eagles were a frigid 5 of 14 from the foul line in seeing their 15-game winning streak vanish. They missed 8 of their first nine free throw attempts. The Raiders were just as cold, converting only 3 of 10 foul shots. QND made 19 of 44 field goals, or 43 percent.
Trost, a 6-foot senior center, pitched in 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting to lead the Eagles. She also snared eight rebounds. Allie Troeckler and Lindsey Fencel both tallied five points.
Mary Beth Gugenberg (16 points) and Kristie Gengebacher (15 points) guided Quincy Notre Dame, which is seeking its fourth successive state title. The Raiders won the Class 3A championship last year and snagged 2A titles the previous two seasons. They are a composite 123-5 during that remarkable run.
“I told Coach Orne that I hope they win state again,” Denney said.
Denney added, “I’m proud of our girls because we kept our composure after that first quarter. I think we played with them the last three quarters.”
He said the Eagles’ fiery play and feisty attitude propelled them to a memorable season. “I told the girls after the game that they did more for our program than anybody could have asked of them,” Denney noted.
He said the loss stings now, but the Eagles will take heart soon in celebrating a record-setting season. “It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it will in a couple of weeks,” Denney said. “They will reflect on it and realize how extremely blessed we all were this season.”
DECATUR CLASS 3A SUPER-SECTIONAL
(At Millikin University)
QUINCY NOTRE DAME 42, CM 27
Quincy ND 12 11 7 12 – 42
CM 0 12 5 10 – 27
QND (29-3) – Gengebacher 15, Obert 4, Hugenberg 16. Foley 3, Marcolla 4. 2FG-18 3FG-1 FT-3 PF-17
CM (31-3) – Niemeier 4, Zipprich 1, Fencel 5, Ballard 2, Trost 10, Troeckler 5. 2FG-11 3FG-0 FT-5 PF-14