SESSER — If Megan Barton keeps making shots like she did on Saturday, good luck trying to beat the Carterville girls for the year’s remainder.
Scoring 19 of her game-high 21 points in the first half, Barton propelled the state’s second-ranked Class 2A team to a 70-36 non-conference rout of Sesser-Valier-Waltonville.
In upping their record to 19-1, the Lions put the rest of their Big Four into double figures. Jeniah Thompson added 18 on 7 of 8 shooting, while Abbey Crain and Alecia Doyle each chipped in 11 points. Carterville was 29 of 50 from the field, sinking 7 of 14 from the 3-point line.
Barton, whose shot hasn’t dropped with the consistency she or coach Matt Crain prefer, was the star. Beginning with a putback just over three minutes into the game, Barton went on a tear that had her outscoring the Red Devils for most of the first half.
She canned 7 of 9 shots from the field, including 3 of 4 from the 3-point line as she stepped into her shot and riddled S-V-W’s zone.
“She works at it every day,” Crain said of Barton’s long-range shooting, “and today the work paid off.”
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Although she hasn’t been scoring to her capability, Barton has offered plenty of help in other areas, including on defense. Her long arms, quickness and experience serve the Lions well when she fronts their full-court zone trap, and it was stifling at times against the Red Devils (7-7).
S-V-W wanted to run a slower pace, but Carterville wouldn’t allow it. Its pressure defense made the Red Devils play a step quicker than they wanted, and the result was 21 turnovers, 15 in a first half that saw the Lions take a 46-22 lead into the locker room.
“They’re the best team we’ll play all year,” said first-year S-V-W coach Johnny Hollis. “Anybody who’s seen them play can tell you what kind of team they are. Did we play a perfect game? No, but it is what it is. That’s a great team, well-coached, and they have unbelievable athletes.”
Hollis actually gave his team a passing grade in some aspects, including how they followed the game plan. He wanted to limit Carterville’s points in the lane, and senior center Carlie Page did an effective job of restricting Thompson’s touches at times, even blocking a shot.
But Thompson is going to SIU next year for a reason: She can do a lot more than post up and score. She simply canned three 3-pointers in as many tries, while tacking on five rebounds, four assists and three steals in less than three quarters of work.
The Lions haven’t messed around lately. They initiated another running clock in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Red Devils 18-8 to up their halftime lead to 64-30. The only energy their starters used in the fourth quarter was to cheer on their teammates.
“I’m very proud of them,” Crain said. “They have come to play, and they have played hard from the start, which is the mark of a very mature team. The effort is there all the time, and they’re buying in.”
Peyton Wilderman and reserve Micah Reynolds each scored 10 points for S-V-W.