CARBONDALE -- After sharing the conference title with Mount Vernon last year, the Carbondale girls basketball team decided to be greedy this time around.
The Terriers placed five players in double figures and defeated Cahokia, 77-68, Saturday to win the South Seven Conference championship outright.
Carbondale (14-11, 9-1) led wire-to-wire, but it wasn’t easy against a very athletic Cahokia squad, which just wouldn’t go away quietly.
“I thought our kids kept their composure for the most part, and it was good for us to have that type of game,” said Carbondale coach Marialice Jenkins. “We’re going to hopefully be in some very critical situations coming up as the tournament starts. We were resilient today. You love to have five girls in double figures, and hopefully we’ll make it hard to guard us in the next game.”
This wasn’t a typical girls basketball game in Southern Illinois. It was fast-paced with a ton of quick baskets.
Kandace Jones scored in the paint off a nice assist from Skylar Miller as Carbondale opened up a 17-6 lead in the first quarter. Miller was terrific distributing the basketball to her teammates, especially in the opening half.
But Cahokia’s standout players J’Ava Brock, a guard, and Dominique Jennings, a post player, kept their team within striking distance the whole way. Brock scored a game-high 25 points, and Jennings, who was virtually unstoppable down low in the first half, added 22.
Despite those contributions, the Terriers never lost the lead. Kaili Bacon converted a three-point play to give Carbondale a 41-37 edge with 43 seconds left in the first half.
Brock banked in a 3-pointer to pull Cahokia within 43-42 just one minute into the third quarter. It stayed close until the halfway point of the third period. That’s when Carbondale made its run.
Jones scored the first five points of Carbondale’s 10-0 spurt. Achsah Greer and Miller also contributed baskets during the streak, which saw the Terriers grab a 63-49 advantage.
“I told the kids the other two years we were up on the banner were as co-champs,” Jenkins said. “They stand alone now as being the outright champions and back-to-back champs. It’s something they should be very proud of. But we want to use it as a stepping stone moving forward.”
Shauntaja Dedecker, Carbondale’ standout defensive guard, hit a jump shot to give the Terriers a 15-point lead, 67-52, early in the fourth quarter. The Lady Comanches sliced the Carbondale lead to just six later in the quarter, but the Terriers were able to finish strong.
Jones and Miller paced Carbondale with 19 points apiece. Greer added 13 points, Bacon tallied 12 and Dedecker contributed 10.
Carbondale gets another crack at its Jackson County rival in the Murphysboro 3A Regional on Tuesday. The Terriers and Lady Red Devils hook up at 7:30 p.m.