OGLESBY -- The young Annawan girls' basketball team either didn't know enough or didn't care enough to be a little taken aback when Newark jumped out to an 8-4 lead midway through the first quarter of its Class 1A Illinois Valley Community College Sectional semifinal game on Monday night.|
It just relied on what it did know and did care about -- playing defense.
The Bravettes, who start four juniors and a freshman, used a 1-3-1 trap defense to hold Newark to only two points in the next 15 minutes, 26 seconds of clock time. At the other end, they poured in the next 21 points before Newark scored again -- 12 of those by 6-foot all-state center Celina VanHyfte -- and seven more unanswered after that to run away with a 46-21 victory.
Annawan (27-2) forced a whopping 31 turnovers, 10 of them in the first quarter alone, and held the Lady Norsemen (28-2) to a 20 percent (7-of-35) shooting to advance into Thursday's 7:30 p.m. sectional title game against Hinckley-Big Rock, a 42-30 winner over Putnam County in Monday's opener.
"We count on that defense," Annawan coach Jason Burkiewicz said. "It seems in every game, we come up with one quarter where we hold the other team to less than five points, and in the second quarter they had what? Two? That was big, even though we weren't knocking down the shots we would have liked. We were able to suffocate them and create some breathing room for us.
"We're a young team, the youngest I've had since I've been here ... That youth helps sometimes, because they're a little naive to the situations and don't think about it possibly being their last game ... I knew we'd be sped up a little early and would have to settle down, and we did and knocked down some shots."
The Lady Norsemen used 3s by Lauren Tollefson and Abbey Akre and forced Annawan into five turnovers in the first five minutes to take that early advantage. But after a couple of offensive rebounds led to VanHyfte's first bucket of the night, it was all downhill for Newark the rest of the way.
VanHyfte connected on all five of her shots in the second period and Megan Foes (12 points) matched the four points she netted in the opening quarter. After a free throw by Annawan's Paige Randall made it 25-8, Newark finally got on the board on a runner in the lane by Taylor Krug. But two deuces by VanHyfte and a trey to start the third quarter by Randall widened the gap to 32-10.
The Bravettes forced eight more miscues in the second and third quarters each, and outrebounded Newark 35-22 behind VanHyfte's 10 boards.
"Sometimes you run into tough competition," Newark coach Dale Skelton said. "Tonight we ran into a better team than we were."
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