Fieldcrest girls basketball coach Ron Kreiser knew his Lady Knights had to not only win Monday, but do so by double digits in order to have a chance to reach the Lady Bruins Christmas Classic title game.
The Lady Knights beat Seneca 52-38 to move to 2-1 in the White Pool.
Fieldcrest, Seneca and host St. Bede are all 2-1, but the Lady Knights hold the point differential tiebreaker if all three finish pool play 3-1.
“We put on the board (pre-game) plus-10,” Kreiser said. “I knew we had to win by 10 or more and that’d give us at least a shot to play for the championship.”
The Lady Knights face Princeton (0-2) at 5 p.m. Friday.
“We have to take care of business Friday because we stubbed our toe in the (Heart of Illinois Conference) looking ahead,” Kreiser said. “So I hope Friday we come focused, especially after the holidays, and get to the title game. That was our goal because last year we played in the third-place game.”
The Lady Bruins beat LaMoille-Ohio 51-28 on Monday to move to 2-1 and they close pool play at 11 a.m. Friday against Princeton.
Defending champion Mendota stayed on course to reach the title game again with a 42-29 victory over Kewanee.
The Lady Trojans, who are 3-0 in the Green Pool, finish pool play at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Eureka.
Fieldcrest 52, Seneca 38
The Lady Knights used tough defense to jump ahead early.
Fieldcrest senior Julia Jochums drained a 3-pointer 18 seconds into the game, and then the Lady Knights forced turnovers on five of Seneca’s first eight possessions to spark an 11-2 opening run.
“I thought defensively we played great,” Kreiser said. “They had to really work for theirs, and what we really got killed on the other night against St. Bede (in a 45-39 loss) was the boards. There were a couple times they got 3-4 shots, but otherwise we were getting the boards and we were able to get out and run.
“A team as big and physical as they are, we had to make it a full-court game. I really thought that was to our advantage.”
After the initial surge, the Lady Knights led by at least four points the rest of the way and extended their lead to as many as 17 points.
Fieldcrest held the Lady Irish to 14-of-44 shooting and forced 19 turnovers.
“We kept them in front,” Kreiser said. “The other night against St. Bede we allowed penetration, and when you get penetration, you get the little dump off for the post. Tonight, we kept the penetration to a minimum.”
Haley Ruestman scored a game-high 24 points for Fieldcrest (10-3), while Tessa Holland added 14 points and nine rebounds.
“We got to the hole,” Kreiser said. “I thought we’d be a great shooting team. So far, that hasn’t happened, but when you get to the hole, it’s a lot easier.”
St. Bede 51, LaMoille-Ohio 28
The Lady Bruins had a lineup that featured youth and several new faces Monday as starting point guard Laura Sickley along with Holly Gregorich, Tristin Phegley and Kelsey Thompson were unavailable due to vacations.
Despite the changes, the Lady Bruins jumped out to an 11-1 lead and led the whole way.
“We played well,” St. Bede coach Tom McGunnigal said. “We ran a bunch of different people on the floor, but we really didn’t miss a beat. They were spaced out nice. I thought defensively we responded and reacted very well no matter who we had on the floor. We had a good understanding of what LaMoille was trying to do and we played well.”
Senior Lexie Miranda drained a 3-pointer and two jump shots during the opening surge, senior Raley Mauck hit two jumpers and sophomore Hanna Bima added a putback.
“I was real happy to see Raley shoot as well as she did,” McGunnigal said. “She had a nice, calm pace to her shot. Lexie Miranda was really aggressive at the beginning, which was a great tone setter for us. She really ran the point well filling in for Laura. We had great senior leadership (from Mauck and Miranda) and Sophie Carus was the same way.”
The Lady Lions clawed back within five at 16-11 by the end of the first quarter, but St. Bede extended its lead to 27-15 by halftime and to as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.
Mauck scored a game-high 15 points for St. Bede (6-7).
Shiela Browning scored 11 points to pace L-O, which played two games Monday.
“We just turned the ball over too much,” L-O coach Richard Gross said. “We’re short-handed. We knew that going in. Kaitlyn Hughes got hurt. It is what it is. We’re tired. I could hear them breathing when they come down the floor.
“It’s really tough right now because of our numbers. Today we started two freshmen who haven’t played much basketball. You can’t compete with St. Bede and other teams like that. They’re great kids, they try hard and they don’t quit, but it’s hard with the depth we have.”
Mendota 42, Kewanee 29
Mendota has made a claim to repeat as Classic champions as Monday’s win against Kewanee gives them the only 3-0 tournament record to put them in the title game.
The Lady Trojans were led by the Bromenschenkel sisters combined 22 points.
Ally Bromenschenkel went a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe and connected on four field goals for a game-high 12 points, while Abby Bromenschenkel knocked down two 3-pointers for 10 points.
Junior Brooke Stallings and Brooke Carroll scored eight and six points, respectively, for the Lady Trojans.
LaMoille-Ohio 29, Princeton 26
Before the Lady Lions faced St. Bede, they started the second day of the tournament with a win against Princeton.
Senior Vanessa Martinez recorded a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead L-O.
She was helped by Browning’s eight points and Elizabeth Geuther’s game-high 13 rebounds.
The Tigresses were led by Michaela Strom’s nine-point performance, while Zoey Mead chipped in eight points.
Eureka 58, Henry 18
Six Lady Mallards scored in Monday’s contest against Eureka, but none of them could get enough going to score more than four points as Eureka cruised to victory.
Emma Cluskey, Shelby Wright and Jenah Anderson all recorded two field goals for four points apiece.
Eureka was only ahead 6-4 after the first quarter, but a 22-point performance in the second quarter gave it a 16-point lead at halftime.
The Lady Mallards scored four points in each of the last three quarters.
IVC 46, Henry 26
Henry started a little better in its second game Monday than it did in the first, but the Lady Mallards still couldn’t muster enough offense as they fell short of IVC.
IVC outscored Henry in the first three quarters and had a 31-11 point halftime lead.
Clusky led the Lady Mallards with a game-high 13 points, while Wright added five points.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.