Hedrington's focus pays off for Central

Hedrington's focus pays off for Central

CHAMPAIGN — It wasn't a free throw to win the season opener, but it was a free throw to prevent a first-game loss.

Champaign Central's Cheyenne Hedrington found herself with a shot to create a tie with 1.8 seconds left in the Maroons' Blue Star Classic girls' basketball game Thursday against Bismarck-Henning.

She had missed her first attempt and, following a timeout by the Blue Devils, swished the one that forced overtime. The Maroons broke away from the 39-39 deadlock eight seconds into the extra session on a basket by Danyae Shoffner, and B-H couldn't recover. Central prevailed 47-41.

Hedrington had 15 points and eight rebounds.

"That's a senior refocusing," Central coach Staci Starkweather said. "I'm proud of her. I'm proud of all the kids. I'm proud of the effort."

B-H carried a 15-8 lead into the final minute of the first half. Hedrington, who was scoreless in the opening 13 minutes, hit two baskets before halftime to start the comeback.

"Coming into the first game, you just want to play, get a game and go from there," said Starkweather, whose Maroons were short-handed. "We'll build on tonight. We have a lot to look forward to.

"I know what's in these kids. They're good kids, and they like to play the game. I'm so proud they buckled down when they needed to and pulled together. I can't pinpoint one kid."

Shoffner totaled 10 points, and Johynna Evans had seven rebounds. Olivia Sheehan took two shots and made both. Each was a three-pointer.

Among the missing Maroons was junior Laura Litchfield, an All-Area special-mention selection last season, who has yet to practice due to a back ailment, and senior Jakeenya Evans, an All-Area second-teamer a year ago. She is sidelined for school-related issues.

Lori Haas led Bismarck-Henning with 12 points. Emily Weinard had nine points and was part of a second-half streak during which the Blue Devils made 11 straight free throws to keep pace with the Maroons. She was 7 of 8 from the line.

"They outscrapped us around the basket big-time," B-H coach Mike Stephens said. "We had two areas where we were deficient. Our post defense was terrible, and we turned the ball over way too many times (19)."

B-H also forced turnovers. Central committed 17 of its 29 in the first half, including a second-quarter stretch in which it lost the ball on nine of its first 10 possessions.

"I don't know if it was first-game jitters or what," Starkweather said, "but we have to take care of the ball."

During the times B-H wasn't connecting on 11 consecutive free throws, it was 1 of 10 from the line.

Urbana 41, Rantoul 19. Jessica Mack scored 13 points and Urbana had enough points at halftime to beat the Eagles. The Tigers led 25-3 at half.

Karida Shelby had nine rebounds and Kanetra Towns four assists for Urbana.

"They played hard, and they played together," Urbana coach Aimee Smith said. "A lot of people contributed. That's the only way we will succeed."

The Tigers had the game's other double-figure scorer. Tiffany Walthour scored 11 points. Mack made the game's only three-pointer.

Rantoul committed 13 first-quarter turnovers but only 12 thereafter. Hannah Wascher led the Eagles with seven points. Mercedes Porter had five points.

"The first game, you never know how things will shake out," Smith said. "I'm pleased where we started, but I let them know it's a learning process. We want to get better."

St. Thomas More 57, Mahomet-Seymour 34. In Jason Schreder's first game as head coach, the Sabers started one freshman, one sophomore, two juniors and a senior, Brooke Schmidt, against the Bulldogs. Four players scored in double figures for a St. Thomas More team that scored the first 11 points and never trailed.

Randa Harshbarger had a game-high 17 points. Jade Brinkoetter had 12 points, sisters Erica and Lexi Wallen each scored 10.

The Sabers outscored M-S 20-7 in the third quarter.

"At halftime, they calmed down, collected themselves and played well in the third quarter," Schreder said. "It was really a tale of two halves. On defense, we amped it up a little bit and rattled them."

Maggie Schmidt led M-S (1-1) with 16 points.