CHAMPAIGN — Chris Mennig called it “stubbornness.”
When his St. Thomas More girls’ basketball team fell 19 points behind Centennial in the first half Saturday during a Blue Star High School Showcase game at Parkland College, he knew what defensive change he wanted to make.
“I don’t like to make adjustments until halftime,” he said. “I didn’t want to show my hand the first half.”
A triangle-and-two defense — on Charger guards Katelynn Martinez and Stacia Simmons — helped the Sabers make a second-half comeback, but Centennial hung on for a 48-43 win that left each team with 2-1 records.
Simmons led the Chargers with 14 points. Chelsea Cross scored 10, and Martinez had nine points and six assists.
“In the first half, our kids didn’t respect the guard play of K-Mart and Simmons,” Mennig said. “We were trying for too many steals. We didn’t set the tone, and they did.”
The Chargers bounced back from Friday’s loss to Southeast.
“We had a great start,” Centennial coach Susan Thomas said. “The way we played the first half was the difference in the game.
“In the second half, STM made some good defensive adjustments, started denying K-Mart the ball hard, and we struggled to get good shots.”
Randa Harshbarger and Jade Brinkoetter drew the Sabers’ shutdown defensive assignments in the second half, but Mennig said, “(Courtney) Wax was the key. She was at the top of the triangle, and her ability to be active made that effective.”
Lexi Wallen led St. Thomas More with 19 points. Harshbarger added nine.
In other games:
— Central’s Cydnee Sheehan nailed six three-pointers en route to a team-high 22 points as the Maroons handed Rantoul its first loss, 77-55. Laura Litchfield had 21 points. The Eagles’ Hannah Wascher hit a game-high 31 points.
— Maggie Schmidt’s point total matched Monticello’s team output as Mahomet-Seymour overpowered the Sages 43-18. M-S’ Vanessa Heinold had six points as did Monticello’s Layne Buzan.
— Bismarck-Henning’s defense kept all but two Urbana players scoreless and the Blue Devils won their first game, 24-18, over the Tigers. The game’s top scorer was Urbana’s Kiara Moses with 14 points. B-H was led by Abby Bergman and Addie Voyles, each with seven points.
— Danville’s Alexus Jimson-Miller hit 13 points and Breanna Keys 10 for the Vikings in a 58-39 loss to Southeast.