DU QUOIN — Tabytha Young was a last minute addition to the Murphysboro starting lineup and the sophomore had the game of her life, scoring a game-high 17 points and pulling down 15 rebounds to lead the Red Devils to a 53-35 win over Christopher on the second day of the 17th Annual Lady Indians Tip-Off Classic on Wednesday in Anders Gymnasium.
“We had an injury, so we had some last minute lineup changes including putting Taby in and it ended up being a good move for us,” said Murphysboro coach Webster McGuire. “She’s our only sophomore and she’s really improved from her freshman to sophomore year. We have trust in all our players, so it’s just next girl up for this team.”
Next up for Murphysboro (1-0) will be host Du Quoin (2-0) Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Christopher (0-2) will play Woodlawn (0-1) at 6 p.m. Friday. In the late game Du Quoin beat Cairo 57-27, led by Lauren Heape with 19 points.
Christopher opened the tournament Monday with a 59-28 loss to Du Quoin, while Cairo beat Woodlawn 55-50 in the tournament opener.
“We got off to a much better start than last season,” McGuire said. “We wanted to come in here and show we’ve been putting in the work to be a better basketball team. It’s a good start for us.”
Murphysboro jumped out to a 14-0 lead with Bridgett Clover canning a 3-pointer and Young scoring the last eight points with two coming on putbacks. Young added another basket with 1:28 left in the quarter to give her 10 points in the open frame.
“I didn’t have much time to get ready to play, but when they told me, I was excited,” Young said. “This was the first time I’ve had 15 rebounds, but I’ve scored 20 points before on the lower level.”
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Christopher cut the lead to 14 on a 3-point basket by Kassie O’Bryan, but a layup by Grace Barlage, a jumper by India Harris and a rebound and a basket by Kylee Kerrens with two seconds left extended Murphysboro’s lead to 20 heading into the second quarter.
“The first quarter was when the wheels came off a little bit,” said Christopher coach Sieger Shurtz. “When you get down by that much that’s a tough hill to climb in the first quarter. That’s a long way to go when you have a team that has eight freshmen of the 14 and only two players with any varsity experience. We’re all in the same boat as far as learning how to play. I think this team is intelligent, athletic and feisty enough to get better as the season progresses.”
With 5:34 remaining in the first half Harris scored from under the basket to extend lead to 23 points, but a putback by Shianne Dejear followed by a rebound and jumper by Carly Freehill cut the lead back to 19 with 3:25 remaining. Dejear finished with 15 points and a game-high 17 rebounds with two blocked shots and a steal.
“To be honest with you we think she could have got more rebounds,” Shurtz said. “When she walks on the court she’s most athletic player on there.”
A second 3-pointer from Clover gave Murphysboro a 22-point lead with 27 seconds left, but Makayla Dejear was fouled with six seconds remaining and made both free throws to cut the lead to 20 at the half.
Shianne Dejear opened the third quarter with a three-point play on a rebound basket, while drawing the foul and making the free throw. Barlage got two of those points back on a jumper, but the Lady Bearcats came roaring back on a 3-pointer by Makayla Dejear, a layup by Jessica Gordon and a putback by Shianne Dejear to cut the lead to 12 with 4:53 left in the third quarter.
However, that was as close as Christopher could get as Murphysboro extended their lead back to 18 by the end of the third quarter and to 24 with 4:33 remaining in the game on a 3-pointer followed by a jumper by Young.