MARSHALL, Ill. —
If the players on Marshall’s girls high school basketball team have revenge on their minds, this is their week of opportunity.
If Monday’s opening game of the Illinois Class 2A Newton Sectional went as expected, the Lions can avenge every loss they’ve incurred the last two seasons with a pair of victories this week.
“I’ve thought about that several times,” coach Kathy Miller of Marshall admitted, “and I’m sure [the Lions] have as well.
“Not many people get an opportunity to do that; hopefully we can take care of business.”
Eighth-ranked Marshall is 25-1, its only loss coming to unbeaten Mt. Carmel by four points at the Robinson Thanksgiving Tournament back in November. The unbeaten Aces, led by megastar junior Tyra Buss, opened sectional play against unranked Sullivan on Monday and could be waiting in Thursday’s championship game (although Sullivan got through ninth-ranked Pana to win its regional last week).
Mt. Carmel was also the only team to beat Marshall during the 2011-2012 regular season — at the same tournment. The Lions’ only other loss last season was to Teutopolis in the regional final game, and the 12th-ranked Wooden Shoes are Marshall’s 7:30 p.m. CST opponent today at Newton.
“They have a lot of history and tradition,” Miller said of the Shoes, “and we know they’ll come to play. … They are physical, they rebound well and they’ll press and trap [defensively].”
What Miller likes about today’s matchup is that Teutopolis has a style of play very similar to that of Newton, a team Marshall beat three times — including a decisive win last Thursday for the Marshall Regional championship.
“The Newton game [last week] was good preparation,” the coach said. “We have a good chance if we continue to play as well as we did [last] Thursday.”
The Lions should be led as usual tonight by 5-foot-10 junior Kaydie Grooms, averaging over 20 points per game, and 5-111⁄2 senior Ariana Kuhn, who has big-time statistics in every area but scoring but who had eight points in a row for her team to give it an early lift in the regional championship game.
Breah Keim provides outside shooting, Tonia Bishop and Abbie Switzer are the unsung heroes of the starting five, and Cheyenne Thompson has been instant offense off the bench.
Teutopolis is led by 5-10 forward Natalie Hartke and 5-6 guard Cierra Thompson, the latter the coach’s daughter. The Shoes also have a 6-1 center, so Miller was still mulling her defensive options earlier this week.
If the Lions play against the Teutopolis players and not the Teutopolis name — the Shoes have been a nemesis for eastern Illinois teams for decades now — they should be all right, Miller believes.
“We’ve only played them twice,” she pointed out. “They beat us in the sectional in 1990 [Marshall’s only previous regional win] and last year in the regional championship game.”
Class 2A Newton Sectional
• Monday — Mt. Carmel vs. Sullivan (n)
• Today — Marshall (25-1) vs. Teutopolis, 7:30 p.m.
• Thursday — Championship, 7:30 p.m.
All times CST