COBDEN — New Athens pressured Elverado from the tipoff, forcing the Lady Falcons into 23 turnovers, including eight in the first quarter, to knock off Elverado, 49-30, to win the Cobden 1A girls basketball regional on Thursday.
“Going into this game we wanted to focus on our defense, trying to disrupt as much as possible, and we were able to do that, and that was the key to the ballgame,” said New Athens coach Erik Hager. “We have a good team effort and are playing pretty well lately.”
New Athens (14-12) advances to the Goreville sectional Monday to face Gallatin County at 7:30 p.m.
“Gallatin County got us last year here in the regionals and they have a heck of a ballclub this year,” Hager said. “They have a lot of weapons, with Hailey Chubb down there.”
Sophomore guard Danika White led the Lady Jackets with 20 points, with senior Courtney Ragland finishing with 11.
“It depends upon the game whether I score a lot of points or not,” White said. “We played well tonight, but for our next game we’re going to have play better against better competition.”
The Lady Jackets converted 17 steals into 16 transition points and held a 33-25 edge in rebounding. Ragland pulled down 10 boards, and White added nine.
“I’m up at the top of the 1-3-1, so I try to get as many steals as I can,” White said. “Our game plan was to guard No. 13 (Allie Whittington) and we knew if we could shut her down we could win.”
New Athens jumped out to the early lead, with White getting the ball rolling with a putback 15 seconds into the game. After the Lady Jackets missed two free throws following a steal by senior Joelli Wahlig, White stole the ball and fed senior Alayna Toedte for a 3-point basket.
Thirty-one seconds later, Toedte stole the ball, set up Ragland for a layup, and the Lady Jackets were off and running. taking a 7-0 lead in the first 1:41 of the game.
Tori Elders snapped the run with a putback to get the Lady Falcons on the board, but Toedte responded with her second 3-pointer. Savannah Valerius scored back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to four with 3:04 left in the first quarter, and that was as close as Elverado would get for the remainder of the game.
A steal by Ragland that she turned into a three-point play extended New Athens’ lead to 11 points with 50 seconds left. Valerius scored with 37 seconds remaining and the Lady Falcons missed a chance to cut the lead seven when they were called for a charge 22 seconds later.
Besides being out-played on the boards, the Lady Falcons had a terrible night shooting, making only 11-of-40 shots from the field, including 1-of 9 from beyond the arc and only 7-of-14 from the free throw line. Ehlers was leader with nine points, followed by eight each from Valerius and Whittington.
“We started out slow and never could recover,” said Elverado coach Jeremy Pierce. “All credit to New Athens. They took care of the ball, did what they had to do and once they got the lead held onto it the rest of the way. It’s also tough when we had a shooting night like we did tonight. Everybody goes through them, but it’s the wrong time of year to be having one of those games.”
Elverado cut the lead to five with 2:30 remaining in the first half, but the Lady Jackets extended the lead to 10 at the half. White had two steals that she converted into three foul shots, and added a layup with 11 seconds remaining.
New Athens didn’t shoot much better overall, making just 18-of-49 shots from the field and 10-of-18 from the line, but from beyond the arc the Lady Jackets made 3-of-5.
Ragland opened the third quarter with a putback and Wahling followed with a steal and a jumper to take a 14-point lead.
The closest the Lady Falcons got in the fourth quarter was 12 points with 1:29 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Whittington and a free throw by Emma Funk.