BLOOMINGTON — The championship trophy was nice.
The confidence gained from beating a pair of state heavyweights was even better.
Centennial had plenty to celebrate Saturday after its 44-28 win against Peoria Richwoods in the large-school title game at the State Farm Classic.
“Springfield and Richwoods are teams we’ve played over the years and haven’t been able to get past,” Centennial coach Susan Thomas said. “Physically, we always knew we were at the table. This eases our minds and lets us know that, hey, we have what it takes. We have the tools and work ethic to have a special year.”
At day after beating Springfield in the semifinals, the Chargers used a 16-2 third-quarter burst to top Richwoods. All-tournament choices Katelynn Martinez (15 points) and Stacia Simmons (eight points) led a balanced attack (eight players scored).
“What I was most proud of the last two days was our complete team effort,” Thomas said. “It was so nice to see our bench really embrace their role and do the job when their number’s called.”
The Chargers, who went 4-0 to complete a three-year rise at the Classic (third in 2010, second in ’11), are off until next Saturday.
“We were on the cusp last year,” Thomas said. “We felt this was our year, and we embraced it.”
St. Thomas More 71, BCC 67. The Sabers’ first win against Bloomington Central Catholic came at a good time.
A dominating performance from 6-foot-3 freshman Tori McCoy (27 points, 13 rebounds), making her first start, helped the Sabers (ranked third in Class 2A) win the small-school title at Shirk Center. Randa Harshbarger had 20 points and all-tournament pick Lexi Wallen added 12 for the Sabers, who entered 0-8 against BCC (eighth in 3A).
“This tournament is a litmus test. It’s a guage to see who’s going to have a chance to win (a state title),” STM coach Chris Mennig said. “BCC has always been our bar. To be able to slay the dragon for at least one night is exciting for our kids.”
The Sabers visit BCC next Saturday.
“I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid yet as far as being one of the best teams (in Class 2A), but after a win like this I’m taking a sip,” Mennig said.