By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
Jeff Schafer wanted a game in the 50s.
Bart Wiedman wanted it in the 30s.
Wiedman and the St. Anthony Lady Bulldogs got the pace they wanted.
But in the end, the Lady Hearts escaped with a 37-35 home victory Saturday afternoon.
“If someone had told me we would hold them to 37 points, I probably would have thought we came out on top,” Wiedman admitted. “We played at the exact speed we wanted to.”
“We did what we needed to do to win the basketball game,” Schafer added. “The game was played at their pace. They won that battle. And I credit their defense. We’re a little more explosive on the offensive end, but they shut us down.”
Bria Barr’s bucket with just 1:01 to play proved to be the game winner. The Lady Bulldogs had just put together an 8-0 scoring run that gave them a 35-34 edge.
But on Effingham’s following possession, Barr, got the ball, drove the right lane and banked in a short jumper that put the Lady Hearts on top to stay.
“Bria made some really good plays for us,” Schafer noted. “On that last play, she put her head down, got to the basket and made a nice shot.”
The game was far from over, but neither team took advantage of their possessions. St. Anthony had a turnover and missed a couple shots in the final minute and Effingham missed a free throw.
Clare McHugh took the final shot for the Lady Bulldogs with less than five seconds to go, but it missed. Sidney Webster was then fouled with just 1.1 seconds to play and made one free throw to account for the final score.
“Clare did a good job, got a good shot and gave herself a chance,” Wiedman said. “I’d take that shot from her anytime. She is really good with her 10-to-12-foot jump shot.”
Early on, St. Anthony was in control. Effingham grabbed an early 7-2 lead, but the Lady Bulldogs then went on a run.
They got five points from Abby Weis and Olivia Clausius to spark an 18-4 surge that built a 20-11 margin with 3:54 to play in the first half. Meg Richards made a couple free throws, McHugh hit a short jumper and Keri McGuire hit a 3-pointer to give St. Anthony that nine-point bulge.
Effingham hit just 6-of-20 shots in the opening half. Miranda Fox scored seven points in the second period or the margin would have been greater. At intermission, St. Anthony owned a 24-17 advantage.
“We switched to our ‘junk defense’ in the second half,” Schafer explained. “It allowed us to match up better with their inside players. We started guarding a little better, got some steals and got back in the game. The girls learned they can come back when they get down.”
After shooting 53 percent in the first 16 minutes, St. Anthony went ice cold, making just 3-of-16 attempts in the second half.
The Lady Hearts, meanwhile, did shoot better, especially in the third period. Carsyn Fearday hit both of her shots and scored five points and Webster connected from behind the arc to spark the rally. The Lady Hearts outscored St. Anthony 12-3 to take a 29-27 edge into the final eight minutes.
Aly Armstrong connected on a three to open the fourth period and Barr added a bucket to expand Effingham’s lead to 34-27 with 5:35 to play.
But the Lady Bulldogs refused to quit. McHugh hit a jumper, Clausius made a free throw, Meg Richards scored after grabbing a rebound and Schmidt added a charity toss to complete the 8-0 run and give them the lead.
“Good teams make runs,” Wiedman noted. “Jeff’s team did and so did we. I was really proud of our girls.
“We hang our hats on playing great defense,” Wiedman added. “But we’re also trying to get our girls to feel comfortable shooting the basketball. We’re more athletic, especially with our ‘bigs,’ and we’re getting a lot more dribble-drive.”
Weis and Richards paced St. Anthony with seven points and Clausius added six. The Lady Bulldogs ended up shooting 35 percent from the field, connecting on 11-of-31 shots. They were also 11-for-19 from the free throw line.
The Lady Hearts got 10 points from Fox, eight from Fearday and six from Barr. EHS shot 37 percent, making 14-of-38 shots; and was just 7-for-17 from the foul stripe, a cool 41 percent.
“Both teams could have beaten the other at the free throw line,” Schafer said. “Part of that is due to the emotions of the game and how hard everybody was trying. The other part, though, is we need to work on free throw shooting.
“I really give St. Anthony a lot of credit,” Schafer added. “They really guard. They are going to be a handful come regional time.”
The Lady Bulldogs are 6-3 and played a key National Trail Conference game Monday night at Altamont. They will also play at home Thursday against Beecher City/Cowden-Herrick.
“I’m very content with the way we played,” Wiedman said. “Playing this team and then Teutopolis gives us a chance to develop and get better. These types of games help us.”
Effingham improved to 7-0. The Lady Hearts will host Mattoon Thursday night and Mt. Zion Monday night in Apollo Conference matchups.