Win gives Urbana girls at least share of Big 12 crown
URBANA – In the first 31 years of girls' basketball at Urbana High School, the Tigers never have been able to call themselves Big 12 Conference champions.
You would figure after clinching at least a share of the regular season conference title by defeating Mattoon 41-34 on Thursday that the Tigers would revel in their victory.
But as senior guard Mandy Kirby said, the Tigers are looking forward "one game at a time."
"We're excited, but we're still looking to accomplish more things down the road," Kirby said. "We'll probably look back at it as the season ends, but right now we're still looking forward."
Urbana coach Aimee Smith said she congratulated her team after the win but reminded her players they have a lot of work to do.
"I ... told them where they're at but told them not to be satisfied," Smith said. "We got a long season left. We got three conference games left, and the whole regional situation is one and done there. You can't be too excited about anything at this point. We got to keep preparing and keep trying to get better so we're playing our best when those games come around."
Smith said the Tigers' success stems from their bal-ance.
"All season long it's been a team; we don't have any superstars, so it has to be that way," Smith said. "I think sometimes when you don't have a go-to person and there are five people on the court at one time that can score and hurt you and play defense as a unit, that's tough to beat."
Senior center Amy Gray said: "There's definitely a core group of us that have played together for a while. It's definitely comfortable."
The Tigers were held scoreless in the second quarter and trailed 20-13 at halftime, but they outscored the Green Wave 17-6 in the third quarter.
"On the offensive end we struggled," Smith said. "We got some good shots; we just weren't knocking them down. Then we kind of fell apart on the defensive end. We talked about how that can't happen at halftime, so we did a good job in the second half coming out stronger."
Junior guard Camille Parsons led the Tigers with 14 points. Gray finished with eight points, and Kirby tallied six.
The Tigers can clinch the Big 12 title outright with a win Saturday. Urbana hosts Champaign Central at 1 p.m.
"We're still hungry," Gray said. "If we win Saturday, then it's all ours, and we don't want to share it."