JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
State-ranked Central A&M came to Shelbyville on Monday night and notched their 20th win of the season, 61-36.
The Lady Raiders routed the Lady Rams without much passion or sense of urgency, resulting in some sloppiness. Nevertheless, In workman-like fashion, A&M employed their press and, almost as a matter of fact, doubled-up Shelby’s scoring as early as the 1st period.
Shelbyville competed in the 1st half and didn’t get completely dismantled until late in the 2nd when A&M went on a 17-0 run to go up, by 28 points, 44-16. The Raider starters stayed in through the 3rd period to keep the machine well-oiled, then the A&M bench was cleared and held their own down the stretch.
Sophomore Taylor Jordan led A&M with 20 points and was ravenous compared to her teammates. She looks like a cherub on the outside, but on the inside she is like a Dementor, looking for an opportunity to inflict pain on her opponents the way her more veteran teammates did when they were sophomores.
You can see it in her eyes and can see the wheels turning in her head. She is constantly looking to force a turnover, steal a ball and bring it on the break, either to score or to set someone else up. She goes right to the corner to line-up a 3-pointer, will cash in on a 3 from the key, or get a step and hit a short jumper or go all the way to the hole. While other Raiders did what they had to to get their 20th win, Jordan was the sharp end of the spear the Raiders used to skewer the Rams on Monday.
Shelby’s leading scorer, Lindsay Burton, carried the Rams on her back with a 16-point performance and getting her share of boards.
Jordan opened the scoring with a pair of free throws inside the first minute. Burton answered out of the post, then grabbed a defensive board. Senior guard Allie Heaton came away from a trap with the ball and scored, 4-2. Burton drove to the hole and was fouled and, on the inbound, Olivia Williamson banked in shot, 4-4.
After Genny Rose Stringer was fouled, A&M set up the inbound play and Jordan was automatic from the corner, 7-4. A&M forced a loose ball and senior point guard Taylor Adcock dialed-in from long distance, 10-4. Senior forward Sarah Bailey and Jordan ran a 2-man fast break dishing back and forth with Bailey finishing and precipitating a Ram time-out with 4:00 left in the 1st, 12-4.
Burton grabbed another defensive board and Lindsay Floyd drove the baseline for a score and a foul. She didn’t convert at the line, but the Rams still had signs of life, down just 12-6. Burton blocked a shot and Ram guard Courtney Schultz had a steal. A&M was little sloppy in transition and Burton scored on a put back, 12-8.
That’s when Jordan struck again, extending the lead again. She hit a jumper. She then stole the ball and Heaton scored on the baseline with a minute left in the 1st, 16-8. With 15 seconds left, Jordan nailed another trey from the corner to more than double-up the Rams and cap a 7-0 run, 19-8. With time running down, Burton launched a baseline jumper and scored with 3 seconds left, 19-10.
In the first minute of the 2nd, Schultz had another steal for the Rams, but on a resulting A&M possession Bailey scored in the lane. Jordan then was fouled on a 3-attempt. She made 2-of-3 free throws and A&M was up 23-10. Schultz scored on a transition jumper, but Stringer answered with her own jumper, 25-12. Shannon Boone was working the paint for Shelby and was fouled. She made both free throws and got the deficit down to 11 with 6:00 left in the half, 25-14.
A&M kept firing. Heaton buried a long two. Boone kept working the paint and scored in the lane for Shelby. The Rams were down just 11 with 4:15 in the half, 27-16. Then Jordan lit the fuse on a 17-0 run.
Jordan struck from the arc again. The press forced a 10 second call and Bailey posted up for two, 32-16. An A&M trap led to a Jordan lay-up. Jordan then hit a 3 from the key with 2:30 left in the half, 37-16. Jordan stole the ball and dished to Heaton and she scored and drew the foul. She converted the 3-point play, 40-16 A&M.
The press forced a turnover and Jordan got it to Heaton again with a two, 42-16. With 52 seconds left in the half, Heaton sank another long two to cap the three and a half minute, 17-0 run, 44-16. Schultz split a pair at the line to end the run. On the final Ram possession of the half, A&M pulled back the press. Floyd dribbled around the wing and launched a 2-pointer at the buzzer, 44-19.
The fat lady had sung by half-time, so the 2nd half was academic. The two teams scored 34 points in the 2nd quarter. They would only score 39 points combined in the 2nd half.
Stringer scored to open the 3rd and a full minute and a half later Burton answered with a put back in transition, 46-21. Bailey drove for two, then Williamson responded with her own drive for two, 48-23. Adcock dished to a cutting Bailey for two. Heaton had a steal, the Adcock had a steal and Rachel Townsend scored on a put back with 3:30 in the 3rd, 52-23.
Adcock blocked a shot then Stringer scored in transition and got the foul. She converted at the line. Ryan Dooley then had a steal and scored on the lay-up, 57-23. Stringer had a steal, then bailey had a blocked shot, but Burton got the put back anyway. Bailey stopped and popped with 5 seconds left in the 3rd, but Burton wasn’t done. With five seconds left and ice in her veins, Burton lined a 3-pointer from the key, 59-28.
In the 4th, A&M launched the subs. Madison Boone scored on a put back, got the foul, and converted the 3-point play. Mikah Maples got her own A&M put back, 61-31. Burton was fouled and split a pair at the line, then scored in the post a minute later, 61-34.
More A&M subs flooded the floor with 3:30 left and Morgan Damery scored. Floyd answered with a baseline drive, but Damery scored again on the backside board, 65-36.
Brooke Stinson went into the post for A&M late and got to the line. She split a pair of free throws and capped the score, 66-36.
Central A&M (20-2, 9-0 Okaw) and Shelbyville now head to the conference tournament which begins Thursday. Shelbyville (#12) plays Sullivan (#5) at Sullivan at 7 p.m. The winner plays Saturday at 4:30 p.m. v. Tuscola (#4). The loser plays Wednesday, January 23 at 5 p.m.
Central A&M (#1) plays Saturday at 3 p.m. against the winner of the Meridian (#9)/Monticello (#8) game from Thursday. The winner plays Tuesday at 6 p.m. The loser plays Monday at 6 p.m.
Central A&M 66, Shelbyville 36
Ram stats: Burton 16 (6-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 1/2 FTs), Boone 7 (2 FGs, 3/7 FTs), Floyd 6 (3 FGs, 0/2 FTs), Williamson 4 (2 FGs, 0/1 FTs), Schultz 3 (FG, 1/4 FTs), Heselton (0/2 FTs). Team FGs 15. 3-Pointers: 1 (Burton). Team FTs 5-of-14.
A&M stats: Jordan 20 (2-2s, 4-3 pt FGs, 4/5 FTs), Heaton 13 (6 FGs, 1/1 FTs), Bailey 12 (6 FGs), Stringer 7 (3 FGs, 1/1 FTs), Adcock 5 (1-2, 1-3 pt FGs), Damery 4 (2 FGs), Townsend 2 (FG), Dooley 2 (FG), Stinson 1 (1/4 FTs). Team FGs 27. 3-Pointers: 5 (Jordan 4, Adcock). Team FTs 7-of-11.
In the prelim, Kaley Hennings and Ryan Dooley raided the Rams for a combined 12 points of A&M’s 20-2 run to start the game. Only Grace Schuler scored for the Rams. Mikah Maples led a 12-6 Raider run in the 2nd with six points, as well, for a 32-8 led at the break. Schuler and Bri Ruff had solo treys for the only Ram scores in the 2nd.
Maples and Damery led a half dozen Raider scorers in the 3rd period, 11-4 run. Mercedes Austin scored twice for Shelby. Down 43-12 to start the 4th the Rams were looking for the exit, but couldn’t find it soon enough. A&M had a final 13-6 run led by Addie Collins six points. Schuler had four of the Rams’ 6-point 4th.
Maples led A&M with a dozen and Schuler led the Rams with nine, including a triple.
Central A&M 61, Shelbyville 18
Ram stats: Schuler 9 (3-2s, 1-3 pt FGs), Mercedes Austin 4 (2 FGs, 0/2 FTs), Ruff 3 (FG), Powers 2 (2/2 FTs). Team FGs 7 (2-3s). Team FTs 2-of-4.
A&M stats: Maples 12 (6 FGs), Dooley 8 (4 FGs), Collins 8 (4 FGs), Hennings 6 (3 FGs), Sparrgrove 6 (2 FGs, 2/2 FTs), Hilton 6 (3 FGs), Smith 4 (2 FGs), Damery 4 (2 FGs), Cole 4 (2 FGs), Seitz 3 (FG). Team FGs 29 (1-3). Team FTs 2-of-2.