DU QUOIN — Christopher got off to a slow start, but put the game away with a 24-0 run to beat Johnston City, 57-41, and remain undefeated to set up for a clash with unbeaten Murphysboro in the morning session of championship Saturday at the Du Quoin Lady Indians Tip-Off Classic.
"We’ve had some rough practices and those have translated into us getting off to slow starts in both games so far," said Christopher coach Seiger Shurtz.
Christopher (2-0) will play two-time defending champion Murphysboro (2-0) at 11:30 a.m. and will finish the day with a 4:30 p.m. game against host Du Quoin (2-1), who beat Woodlawn in the second game, 45-27.
"Murphy is going to be a real test," Shurtz said. "They are going to take it at us and they aren’t going to feel sorry for anyone walking in at 11:30 tomorrow, so we have to be ready to play."
Johnston City (0-2) opens the action at 10 a.m. against Woodlawn (0-3) and will finish up with Murphysboro at 3 p.m. to open the afternoon session.
Rebecca Henson led Christopher with 16 points and Kaitlyn Hewitt added 10. Christopher forced 32 turnovers with 20 coming on steals led by Henson with five and Hewitt with four. Courtney Hoppers and Andrea Miller led Christopher on the boards with nine rebounds each.
"We always say if we can get 25 deflections and hold the other team to 40 points or under we have a pretty good chance of winning," Shurtz said. "Tonight we forced more turnovers and gave up one more point. We have to play hard the entire game tomorrow in order for us to beat Murphy."
Christopher fell behind 7-0 in the first 3:50 of the game on a free throw by Kenzie Nichols, a jumper by Makayla Loftus and back-to-back buckets by Sydney Billington.
Nichols and Billington led the Lady Indians with 12 points each. Billington was the game’s leading rebounder with 10 and Nichols finished with seven.
Christopher couldn’t find the basket early, but Henson broke that spell with two jumpers from the right corner followed by a third from the top of the key over a 1:49 span to jumpstart the Lady Bearcats’ offense.
"Nothing was falling for us at the beginning of the game," Henson said. "When my shot isn’t falling I just head into the corner to get me going. They started on such a roll we were getting down on ourselves, but once I hit that first one we got our confidence and it went from there. We just needed that little push."
Hewitt was sent to the line 13 seconds later and made both her free throws to keep the run going. Lauren Kent then stole the ball and converted the turnover and Hewitt followed with a layup for the streaking Lady Bearcats.
Alexis Parks was fouled while sinking a shot and finished her three-point play. Hoppers was also fouled and split her two attempts before Jayla Williams stole a pass and scored to extend the run to 16-0 and give Christopher an 18-9 lead going into the second quarter.
The break didn’t cool off the Lady Bearcats with Miller opening the second quarter with back-to-back fast break layups. Parks followed with two free throws and after Williams missed a pair from the charity stripe Hewitt scored on a fast break to extended the run to 24 points and give Christopher a 26-9 lead with 6:39 remaining in the first half.
"Halfway through the first quarter we started making bad decisions and had a little trouble getting the ball down the floor," said Johnston City coach Lenny Clark. "We had a chance to get back in it in the second half, but missed a few free throws. However, the girls played hard the entire game and played a lot better than they did the first game."