Photo by Bill Roseberry
CM freshman Alaira Tyus shields the ball from a Calhoun defender in the finals of the Carrollton Hawks Invitational on Jan. 31 in Carrollton. Tyus and the Eagles are ready to delve into the postseason at the Class 3A Jersey Regional next week.
There’s a loaded field gathering for next week’s Class 3A Jersey Regional at Havens Gym in Jerseyville. It could be girls’ postseason basketball at its finest.
Top-seeded Highland has won more than 20 games, as has No. 2-rated Civic Memorial. And Breese Mater Dei, ranked third in the five-team set up, is closing in on 20 victories.
Fourth-seeded Triad, which has won 17 games, meets 8-17 Jersey at 7:30 Monday in the regional opener. Then the fireworks increase with the Triad-Jersey winner challenging Highland and CM bracing for Mater Dei in semifinal games Tuesday.
The championship contest is set for Thursday, with the champion advancing to the Highland Sectional. Regional champs from Olney East Richland, Mascoutah and Murphysboro also go to Highland.
“Whoever comes out of our regional is really going to be battle-tested,” CM coach Jonathan Denney said. “And I like the chances of that team to win the sectional.”
Elsewhere, Alton will play to a five-team Class 4A regional that gets going Monday with Quincy playing Granite City. Top-seeded Edwardsville takes on that survivor and third-ranked Alton clashes with second-rated Pekin in Tuesday’s semis. The winners go on to Thursday’s title game.
Highland, 25-3, pending its MVC finale Thursday against Waterloo, owns three wins over CM, including a pair in the Mississippi Valley Conference. The Bulldogs are gunning for an outright Valley title.
“I think Highland is the team to beat,” Denney said of the regional.
Mater Dei has divided two games with Highland, scoring a victory over the Bulldogs in the Mascoutah Tournament. Triad divided two games with Highland but lost twice to CM. And the Eagles shaded 18-8 Mater Dei 45-39 in a nonconference game Dec. 11 in Bethalto.
“Since the IHSA has gone to four classes, this is the toughest Class 3A regional that I can recall,” Denney said. “I don’t want to disrespect any other regionals, but I think our regional is as tough as any that feed into the (Springfield) Super-Sectional.
“What we want to do now is play our best basketball of the season.”
Sophomore Allie Troeckler is averaging 20.6 points per game to boost the Eagles. The 5-foot-10 guard/forward passed the 1,000-point plateau Monday in a win over Mascoutah. She has two-plus seasons remaining to eclipse Katie Broadway’s school record of 2,079 points, established from 2004-08. Only seven CM girls have registered more than 1,000 career points.
“Everybody notices her scoring, but it’s what she does at both ends of the court that makes her special,” Denney said of Troeckler’s talents. “She can make plays to take over a game.
“She’s not just a shooter. Allie can do it all.”
Denney also can go with Katelyn Turbyfill, Journey Coffman, Kaitlyn Kappler, plus Alaria Tyus, Kalyn Troxell or Kaylee Eaton in the Eagles’ starting lineup. There’s not a senior in the bunch. Eaton and Tyus are freshmen and Kappler is a sophomore. Turbyfill, Coffman and Troxell are juniors.
Edwardsville is the overwhelming favorite to win the Alton Regional and land a berth in the Pekin Sectional. Regional winners from O’Fallon, Ottawa and Danville also go to Pekin.
The Tigers, unbeaten through their first 24 games, have clinched the Southwestern Conference championship. Alton had a 5-20 record, with only one win since Jan. 17, prior to its regular-season finale Thursday against the Tigers.
Junior guard LaJarvia Brown is averaging 16 points, best for the Redbirds. Jewel Wagner is next at 7.9, followed by Megan Paulda at 6 ppg. They haven’t played Pekin of the Mid-Illini Conference this season.