JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — CHBC (26-5), led by their 2000-point all-state center Micah Jones was back for their third trip to state in four years and Mt. Pulaski (28-4) was making their first state appearance in basketball. They met in the IHSA Class A State semifinals on Friday.
Thanks to a 15-1 run to close out the 2nd, CHBC was up by nine at the break, 24-15. However, Mt. Pulaski changed up their defense and shut down CHBC in the 2nd half. The Toppers out-scored CHBC 34-17 in the final 16:00 to win, 49-41.
"The 1st half we played pretty well," said CHBC coach Carolyn Wendte. "We crashed the boards well, but didn't shoot well, overall. We worked hard, but we've got to step up and finish. Their ball pressure in the 2nd half scooted us further out. They took us out of our game, which is inside out. We didn't have the entry pass. We had a lot of unforced turnovers.
"We usally have a couple of kids pick up, not this time. We were prepared, but then little things happened and we started to back off and didn't finish strong."
CHBC had an inside game with Micah Jones, while Mt. Pulaski was a perimeter team. CHBC already had two state appearances and Mt. Pulaski was at state for the 1st time. It was an intriguing match-up that led to a see-saw battle.
It was a game of runs with five ties and six lead changes. CHBC was up 9-7 at the end of the 1st when Jessica Awe hit a 3-pointer as Micah Jones was running at her, 10-9 Mt. Pulaski.
Mt. Pulaski extended their 6-0 scoring run into the 2nd, leading 14-9. That's when CHBC had their big run.
Autumn Riley tried a 3 and Jones got the put back with 5:48 in the 2nd, 14-11. A minute later, Riley nailed a 3-pointer for the tie, 14-14. Mt. Pulaski missed two free throws. Chandler Ward tried a CHBC 3 and Jones got another put back for the lead, 16-14.
Ava Paruleski, who put CHBC up 3-2 with a high-arching triple, stole the ball, got it to Jensyn Morrison, who got it to Jones at the dish, 18-14. Mt. Pulaski missed a trey, Jones got one of her 21 rebounds. She got another one on offense and ws fouled. She split a pair of free throws, 19-14.
Jones played inside defense, causing a turnover.
In the half-court, CHBC passed the ball quickly around the horn to Morrison in the corner and she hit a cutting Jones for a lay-up, 21-14. The outside-shooting Toppers missed another shot. CHBC's Chandler Ward then hit her 3-pointer to cap the 15-0 run, 24-14.
Awe, who finished the 1st period scoring, finished the 2nd quarter scoring making 1-of-2 foul shots, 24-15.
Jones led all scorers with 9 points in the 1st half, with 10 rebounds. Teammate Autumn Riley had five. Mt. Pulaski was led by awe with six and Andrea Dickinson with five. They had four boards, each. CHBC had three treys and Mt. Pulaski three.
CHBC was in control, until the 3rd period shift. Mt. Pulaski surrounded Jones inside and extended their defense for more pressure on the ball. It made it harder to get the ball to Jones and for her to operate on the inside. CHBC had tougher outside shots and their skip passes were errant. The Toppers used it to start a 10-3 run and close the gap.
CHBC turned the ball over and Kendra Willoughby hit a jumper, 24-17. CHBC turned the ball over again and Dickerson hit a jumper in transition, 24-19.
Jones kicked the ball out to Paruleski who missed a 3-pointer. Jones got the board and scored. She converted the free throw and the 3-point play, 27-19. But, the Toppers stayed with their defense.
Awe scored after her own miss and CHBC turned the ball over again. Dickerson scored in transition. CHBC missed another 3 and Mt. P scored in transition again , 27-25.
Nobody scored for over 2:00. Jones was fouled after a rebound and made 1-of-2. Erika Leever hit a Topper 3, completing a 13-4 run and tying the score again, 28-28.
CHBC had two missed 3-pointers on successive possessions. Then missed another 3. Jones got the board and kicked it out, they missed another 3 and Jones got the board and he put back, 30-28. Jones got another put back on a 3 miss, 32-28.
Mt. Pulaski got the final score of a period again. With 13 seconds left Dickerson made another 3. CHBC had a possession, but couldn't score, leaving it at 32-31 heading into the 4th.
In the 4th, Awe tied the game on a free throw and took the lead with another one, 33-32. Mt. Pulaski never trailed again. They out-scored CHBC 16-9 the rest of the way. Jones scored all nine CHBC points.
Class A State Semi
Mt. Pulaski 49, CHBC 41
Mt. P. 10-5-16-18--49
CHBC stats: Jones 26 (11 FGs, 4/6 FTs), 21 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal; Riley 5 (1-3 pt FG, 2/2 FTs), 7 rebounds, 1 steal; Kirby Herrmann 4 (FG, 2/2 FTs), 2 rebounds, 2 steals; Paruleski 3 (FG, 0/1 FTs), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals; Ward 3 (FG), 1 assist. Team FGs 18. 3-Pointers: 3 (Paruleski, Ward, Riley). Team FTs 8-of-11. Rebounds 39. Turnovers 15. Assists 7. Steals 6.
Mt. P stats: Dickerson 18 (5-2s, 2-3 pt FGs, 2/2 FTs), Awe 15 (3-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 6/11 FTs), Willoughby 6 (4 FGs, 0/1 FTs), Leever 8 (1-2, 2-3 pt FGs). Team FGs 18. 3-Pointers: 5 (Leever 2, Dickerson 2, Awe). Team FTs 8-of-16. Rebounds 31. Turnovers 13. Assists 7. Steals 8.
CHBC will play for 3rd place at noon on Saturday against Annawan.