DANVILLE — If the strategy is not as old as the game of basketball, it's at least from the same generation: Contain a team's star player and make the others win the game.
CPCI executed its plan to perfection in Wednesday's semifinal game against top-seeded Urbana University High in Schlarman's Class 1A regional at Shebby Gym.
The Illineks foiled the idea by getting huge games from Emma Hoyer and Jaki Vipond before scoring leader Jamie Blue got untracked late, scoring eight of her 12 points in the final 5:15 of Uni High's 46-33 win.
CPCI tried to deny point guard Blue from touching the ball on offense. The senior was limited to six shots in the opening 27 minutes.
Uni coach Allie Lindemann shifted Vipond to the ball-handling role.
"She doesn't normally handle it a lot," Lindemann said, "but she is good enough to be comfortable with that."
In practice, Vipond is frequently with the ball. To make for a competitive workout, Lindemann usually has Blue and Vipond on opposite practice teams.
"In past school years, I've had to handle it," Vipond said. "We've seen teams do that, try to get the ball out of Jamie's hands to throw off our offense."
Vipond and Hoyer had 14 points apiece. Vipond converted three steals into layups as the Illneks forced 33 CPCI turnovers.
"I tried to pressure up on their point guard," Vipond said, "because she is the one to initiate their offense."
Blue finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds.
"We had to find a way to win," Lindemann said, "but we'll have to play better (today)."
Amanda Montgomery made three three-pointers and led CPCI with 13 points. Teammate Jessica Flinkman had nine rebounds.
The win enabled Uni High (23-4) to raise its school record for season wins for the fourth time in the past two weeks.
"This is an amazing team," Lindemann said. "We have so many threats, offensively and defensively."
Armstrong-Potomac 42, Schlarman 38. In a semifinal where each team had missed opportunities, the key for the Trojans was not allowing the Hilltoppers to follow up on missed shots.
"All season, (Janelle) Marion and (Laura) Gross have been huge for them on the offensive boards," A-P coach Nick Hipsher said. "That was a point of emphasis."
Erika Sieberns and Sarah Reardon, in particular, handled the inside challenge for A-P. Entering the fourth quarter, Schlarman had only three offensive boards and the Trojans had a narrow 33-30 lead.
Sieberns also scored a team-high 16 points for A-P (21-8), which scored the first 10 points and never trailed.
The Trojans, however, were unable to pull away. With less than a minute to play, the team had missed 11 of 12 free throws. Schlarman could not capitalize. Four times in the final two minutes the Hilltoppers missed free throws that could have tied the contest.
The game's second — and final — tie lasted less than 30 seconds. A rebound basket by Janelle Marion, who gathered a game-high 12 boards, allowed Schlarman to pull even, 26-26, with 5:13 left in the third quarter.
An 8-foot shot by Sieberns at 4:48 lifted the Trojans into the lead for good. It was by design that A-P worked the ball to the 6-foot Sieberns, who was 7 for 12.
"The last time, we avoided Gross inside a little," Hipsher said. "Tonight, we had to get the ball inside."
All three A-P wins against Schlarman this season were by margins of nine points or less.
"This is a team that expected to win," he said.
The second-seeded Trojans return to Shebby Gymnasium tonight to face top-seeded Uni High.
"Our free throw shooting has to improve," Hipsher said.