JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — Central A&M girls basketball is headed back to State after dismissing Goreville in the Salem 1A Super-Sectional on Monday, 67-41.
Central A & M advanced to the state tournament with a 27-5 record. Leading the Raiders was Taylor Jordan with 23 points, Ryan Dooley with 15 and 5 rebounds and Mikah Maples with 12 points. Abigail Hilton led both teams with 13 rebounds.
The Goreville Blackcats were led by Ashlyn Darnell with 14 points, Gracie Snell had 10 points and 7 rebounds.
It was a blitz from the opening tip, thanks to junior Taylor Jordan. Jordan was a super sophomore last year. Despite not having any seniors, Jordan, who made 62 triples (36%) this season, didn't have to carry the load for the 27-5 Raiders. She had sophomore help.
Ryan Dooley led the team in scoring with 509 points, followed by Jordan with 396 and Mikah Maples and junior Kaley Hennings with 294 and 295 points, respectively.
Jordan had a few games where she exploded offensively, but the cat-quick sophmore point guard, Dooley, was a juggernaut and sophomore Mika Maples was tough as nails inside.
Jordan led the team in scoring in just ten games, but eight of them were after Christmas. Two were during the conference tourney and two during regionals. Her highest scoring game was 24 points. She averaged 18.9 points when she led in scoring, 12.4 for the season.
Dooley led A&M in scoring in 16 games. She averaged almost 16 points per game.
On Monday, Jordan exploded for 23 points, 10 in the 1st period. She nailed two 3s and a deuce and made both her free throws, outscoring Goreville by herself in the first 8:00.
Maples scored twice and Dooley and Morgan Damery once. Goreville was reeling and had just three scores, two treys and a two, trailing 18-8.
A&M deepened the cut in the 2nd quarter with a 15-10 run. Jordan buried her 3rd triple of the half and made another two. Maples led A&M with three buckets in the 2nd. Dooley and Kaley Hennings each scored once.
Goreville only had three baskets in the 2nd, but got to the line, making 4-of-7 and trailed by 15 at the break, 33-18.
A&M had scored from the floor 14 times and Goreville just six.
The 3rd period gave Gorevill some hope, as they almost matched the Raiders, 15-14. Their leading scorer, Darnell, scored two twos and a trey. The other Darnell had a 3-point play and Snell had a deuce and two free throws.
Jordan had another trey and a deuce in the 3rd, Dooley scored twice, while Hennings, Maples, and Damery had solo twos. A&M led by 16 heading into crunch time, 48-32.
Goreville would have to summon an heroic comeback. It didn't happen. A&M smelled blood and ran off a furious 19-9 run.
Jordan sank her fifth 3-pointer of the game. Hennings got to the line, making 3-of-6 shots, Dooley had a deuce and a trey and 3-point specialist Kayla Gibson connected on a pair of bombs from downtown.
Ashlyn darnell only made 1-of-2 free throws in the 4th. The other Darnell had two buckets and two free throws, while Snell had just one bucket.
It was another bitter pill for Goreville to swallow. They have now lost in the super-sectional to a team from Central Illinois each of the last four years.
Goreville lost to CHBC (Cowden-herrick/Beecher City) in 2013 and 2012. They lost to Hume Shiloh (which eliminated CHBC) in 2011. In 2010, Goreville lost to Cobden in the sectional, before Cobden lost to CHBC in the super-sectional. Now, A&M has eliminated Goreville in the super-sectional to deny them a trip to state, again.
Central A&M plays Friday at the state tournament at 12:15 against Carrollton. The loser plays Saturday at 12:15 and the winner plays for the state title at 2 p.m.
Central A&M 66, Goreville 41
A&M stats: T. Jordan 23 (3-2s, 5-3 pt, 2/2 FTs), Dooley 15 (5-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 2/2 FTs), Maples 12 (6 FGs, 0/1 FTs), Hennings 7 (2 FGs, 3/6 FTs), Gibson 6 (2-3 pt FGs), Damery 4 (2 Fgs), Team FGs 21. 3-Pointers: 8 (T. Jordan 5, Gibson 2, Dooley). Team FTs 7-of-11.
G'ville stats: A. darnell 14 (4-2s, 1-3 pt Fgs, 3/6 FTs), Snell 10 (3 FGs, 4/5 FTs), H. Darnell 9 (3 FGs, 3/3 FTs), Pritchett 8 (1-2, 2-3 pt FGs). Team FGs 14. 3-Pointers: 3 (Pritchett 2, A. Darnell). Team FTs 10-of-14.