Photo by Bill Roseberry
The Civic Memorial Eagles are all smiles while posing with their Class 3A Jersey Regional crown on Feb. 19. The CM girls’ basketball team entered the Highland Sectional on Feb. 23.
The youthful Civic Memorial Eagle girls’ basketball team spread their wings and learned to fly in 2014-15.
It makes the future look bright on the Bethalto hardwood.
For a team with no seniors on its roster, CM turned some heads this season. On Feb. 26 the Eagles made a valiant effort to secure the second sectional title in school history and the second one in a row. CM fell 36-31 in a physical Class 3A Highland Sectional final to a gritty Massac County squad.
Rewind to last year, when the Eagles advanced to the super-sectional round of the playoffs for the first time ever, ultimately losing to Quincy Notre Dame 42-27 at Millikin University.
CM graduated seven seniors from that 31-3 super-sectional team and only returned sophomore Allie Troeckler with any tangible experience. Troeckler averaged 13.1 points per game as a freshman to lead the team off the bench. Journey Coffman (50 points) and Katelyn Turbyfill (70 points) also contributed a little as sophomores.
Enter this season and many basketball pundits thought it was a rebuilding year for the Eagles, but a 26-7 campaign and a berth in the sectional finals spoke differently.
Troeckler grew into a formidable force in the area, averaging a team-best 21.0 ppg, 8.7 rebounds per game, 3.09 steals per game and 2.55 blocks per game. She was second in assists with 2.42 per game.
She also reached 1,000 points for her career this season, set the single-game record for points with 44 against Taylorville on Dec. 13 and set the single-season mark for rebounds at CM with 288.
Troeckler was joined in the starting lineup by juniors Turbyfill (8.7 ppg) and Coffman (5.2 ppg), as well as sophomore Kaitlyn Kappler (1.5 ppg) and freshman Alaira Tyus (5.6 ppg) to form a solid unit. Tyus led the Eagles with 2.91 assists per game.
CM head coach Jonathan Denney wouldn’t call the success a complete surprise, but he admitted it came quicker than expected.
“I was, but I wasn’t. I knew we had some pieces to the puzzle, but I thought a run like this might have been a year away,” Denney said. “They were a year ahead of time and a lot of kids did some really good things as freshmen, sophomores and even the juniors who were untested from last year. I thought there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle there and a lot of coaches aren’t feeling sorry because we are having everybody back, but at the same time we’re going to have a target. We’ve made a couple nice runs the last couple years. This isn’t a given we’re going to be back here winning this thing next year just because we have everybody coming back.”
There were a slew of other contributors in ‘14-15 who should progress for next season, too.
Junior Kalyn Troxell (4.0 ppg) and freshmen Kaylee Eaton (5.5 ppg), Elizabeth Buckley (1.9 ppg) and Cassie Hall (0.5 ppg) also supplied valuable minutes to the Eagles’ cause.
Improvement was evident when CM bested Highland 63-56 in the Jersey Regional finals and then Salem 55-46 in the Highland Sectional semis. The Eagles lost to Highland three times and Salem once during the season to make up four of their six regular-season losses. The other two defeats came to eventual Class 1A state runner-up Calhoun.
Denney insists improvement is the key to future success. The offseason dedication of the girls will foretell what will be in store for the ‘15-16 season.
“I think the girls really need to make the commitment to excellence in the offseason and fix the little things like foot speed, speed and agility, get stronger. I’d like to see each and every one of them put five to 10 pounds of muscle on,” he said. “That includes Troeckler and Turbyfill. I think everybody’s got to get stronger and it’s going to help their mental toughness and when you get in a game like (Massac County), maybe you don’t get out-toughed next year.”
Troeckler pointed to the bad taste the loss to Massac County left in the mouths of the Eagles as a driving force for a commitment to excellence.
“It just makes me want to get after it and get it next year that much more than I did before,” Troeckler said. “To see that we have everybody returning and see how far we went this year, it just shows that we can go that much further next year.”