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EUREKA — The Fieldcrest girls basketball team fought hard to advance in the Class 2A Eurkea Regional, but couldn’t get past Tremont in Wednesday’s semifinal.
The Lady Knights had difficulties penetrating the defense, while Tremont’s multi-faceted offense outpaced Fieldcrest for a 52-44 victory.
The season-ending loss was the last game for seniors Hailey Ruestman, Taylor Tjaden, Julia Jochums, who helped change the Fieldcrest girls basketball program.
“That’s a group that when they were freshman we were .500,” Fieldcrest coach Ron Kreiser said. “The last few years we’ve been around the 20-win mark and have been in the top three or four in the (Heart of Illinois) conference. They brought us from the seven, eight mark to the two-to-four mark.
“Their work ethic and leadership carries over with the younger girls.”
Although the Lady Turks took the lead at 9-7 and had it for the rest of the game except for 14 seconds in the second quarter, the Lady Knights’ veterans refused to give up.
“The good part about my four captains is their heart is just as big as it comes,” Kreiser said. “You know they’re not going to give up. They’re going to keep working at it. They’re going to keep trying to find ways and they just kept going. Unfortunately, we ran out of clock.”
Tessa Holland recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and had nine blocks to finish one shy of a triple-double.
Ruestman scored 15 points, grabbed four rebounds, snatched four steals and had three assists, while Jochums finished with six points on the only two Lady Knight 3-point baskets.
Tremont’s 15-11 lead at the end of the first quarter was answered by a 10-2 Fieldcrest run to take a 21-19 lead with 3:24 left in the second.
Fourteen seconds later, Tremont scored to tie the game and went on to make a 10-2 run of their its for a 29-23 halftime lead.
“There before the half we had a couple of turnovers. It was 21-21, they went up by six points and that made a world of difference,” Kreiser said. “We talked about the turnovers and we had a couple where we didn’t finish on point-blank putbacks or layups, and when you’re playing a team of that quality you can’t miss your little easy shots.
“Give the credit to them though. They have a deep bench. They are a very athletic and a very good basketball club.”
Fieldcrest (18-10) finished the game with 24 turnovers, while the Lady Turks committed 18 turnovers.
Tremont spread the floor with three different 3-point shooters and had an inside game with Wesley Woodard, who scored 12 points, and 6-foot-1 Lauren Hartman, who scored 10 points.
Tremont (23-3) went on to build a 13-point lead, but the Lady Knights cut it to single digits before the last buzzer sounded.
“Our goal was help side defense,” Tremont coach Justin Wahls said. “We knew they wanted try to get into the lane. Jochums likes to shoot 3s, so we tried to stick somebody on (Ruestman, Holland and Jochums), but our other two defenders were strictly on help-side. That’s how we were able to clog up the lane a little bit when they drove to the basket.”