BETHALTO – It’s the second season for the Civic Memorial High girls basketball team and the Eagles intend to make it identical to the first one.
“We want to keep on rolling,” CM coach Jonathan Denney said.
The Eagles have rolled to a school-record 27 wins and tournament championships at Jerseyville and Carrollton. They will carry a 27-2 record and No. 1 seed into the upcoming Triad Class 3A Regional.
“We’re trying to take it one game at a time and bring our intensity each game,” senior guard Brittany Zipprich said.
CM is cast in a rugged five-team regional and that includes Mississippi Valley Conference co-champ Highland and independent power Breese Mater Dei. The winner advances to the Carbondale Sectional and joins regional champions from Effingham, Massac County and Cahokia.
“We can’t take anything for granted because everyone wants to beat us,” Zipprich said.
Triad Regional play begins Monday with the host Knights welcoming Jersey at 7 p.m. CM gets that survivor at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Mater Dei and Highland clash at 8 that night. The championship game is set for 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s a tough regional,” Denney said. CM won two of three games from Highland and divided the Valley title with the Bulldogs. Both teams were 9-1 in it. The Eagles thus have won or shared the MVC crown the past three seasons and gone 28-2 in league competition during that span.
“They (Eagles) have a good team and a senior-laden one,” Alton coach Bobby Rickman said. “It’s one with a lot of experience.”
Seven seniors, five of them starters, have powered the Eagles to their best record in school annals, dating to 1980. They posted a 24-8 record last season and captured their first regional title two years ago.
“We rely on our defense and try to score that way, turning our defense into offense,” 5-7 senior guard Hannah Neimeier said.
Megan Trost, a 6-0 senior center; Lindsey Fencel, a 5-6 senior guard and Addie Ballard, a 5-11 senior forward; round out the starting lineup. Trost is a force in the middle of the defense with her solid rebounding and taut guarding.
"Lindsey is the sparkplug that makes our engine roar," Denney said of Fencel, the school's career assists and steals leader.
Seniors Jennifer Guetersloh and Taylor Wieneke add to the mix. Freshman Allie Troeckler has elbowed her way into group and has at times served as the team’s top scorer.
“We have experience and depth,” Denney said.
The Eagles are confident they can make a deep run in the season. Yet they know that it all starts at Triad and hinges on a swarming defense that makes opponents squirm.
“We’re going to try and go as far as we can in the postseason,” Neimeier said.