CARTERVILLE — The Carterville girls basketball team broke open a close game with a 19-1 run in the second half on the way to a 47-29 win over Marion Tuesday in the semifinals of the Carterville Class 3A Regional.

The Wildcats (16-13) trailed by just three points at halftime, but only managed to score three points in the third quarter.

“It’s that time of year, and that’s why they call it March Madness even though we’re still in February,” said Carterville coach Matt Crain. “Marion has been playing better, and they had confidence. You just can’t take anybody lightly this time of year, and we certainly didn’t do that. We dug in there in the second half, and we got active. We turned the volume up.”

It was still a 23-20 game after Marion’s Abby Bayer sank a free throw with 4:48 left in the third period. Carterville scored the final 10 points of the quarter. Abbey Crain and Hanna Schulmeister buried 3-pointers during the run. Lexi Swalls and Megan Barton contributed baskets as well.

“I loved the pace of the play; we kind of had it slowed down a little bit,” said Marion coach Mike Manfredo. “When they get in transition, we’re in trouble. We just couldn’t get anything to drop in the second half.”

Most of Carterville’s starters had a difficult time scoring, but Crain racked up 16 points.

“Abbey has been struggling a bit lately, but she stepped up big for us tonight,” Crain said of his daughter. “She hit some big buckets for us, and she ran the show. I’m really proud of Abbey, and she needed that for confidence. She’s had a hard way to go sometimes with me being her coach. But that’s just because I think she has a chance to be okay.”

The Wildcats kept it very close the entire first half. Jordan Turner knocked down a pair of free throws, and Marion trailed 20-16 with 2:09 left in the second quarter. But Abby Bayer, the team’s best player, picked up her third foul moments later.

“If you’d told me we’d hold them to 44 tonight before the game, I’d say good, we’ve got a shot,” Manfredo said. “We just didn’t produce and put them in the hole. It’s kind of been our bugaboo all year, we really struggle in the third quarter.”

Jasa Bell led Marion with eight points. Carterville improved to 24-5 and faces Murphysboro for the regional title at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Murphysboro 48, Olney Richland County 29: The Red Devils held just a four-point lead over Olney after three quarters of play. But Murphysboro didn’t allow point in the fourth period.

Kayla Walker, who is having an excellent regional tournament so far, scored a game-high 22 points, including 10-for-12 from the charity stripe.

Arie Ciganovich sank three shots from beyond the arc for nine points, and Clarese Hibbler-Johnson added eight points as well.

Murphysboro improved to 18-10 this season.


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Sports reporter

Scott Mees is a sports reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering prep sports.

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