Thevenin happy to return to the floor
DANVILLE — Paige Thevenin's comeback started Friday night.
The Chrisman High School graduate, who missed most of her senior season with an injury, received clearance to resume her basketball career a month ago.
A shoulder injury — one she had hoped would heal with rest — needed season-ending surgery in January.
Thevenin returned to action as the starting center for the Eastern Illinois All-Stars in the second annual girls' Battle of the Border series with the Western Indiana All-Stars at Palmer Arena.
The Danville Area Community College recruit grabbed a game-high three offensive rebounds in her team's 61-41 loss. The two-game series concludes today at Covington (Ind.) High School with a 5 p.m. tipoff.
"I played better than the past two nights (at practice)," Thevenin said. "Each night, I get a little better."
The 6-foot-1 Thevenin scored four points for an Eastern Illinois team that never led.
"It feels so good to be playing again," Thevenin said. "I was honored to be picked."
Eastern Illinois coach Nick Hipsher, from Armstrong-Potomac, said it was an easy decision to include Thevenin even though she was inactive for most of her final prep season.
"Before her senior season was ruined by injuries, she was someone you had to game-plan for," Hipsher said.
Thevenin, who plans to major in nursing, said DACC was the obvious choice to continue her collegiate career.
"I wanted somewhere close to home," she said.
After a 13-point opening half for the team, Bismarck-Henning's Lori Haas ignited a second-half comeback bid by the Eastern Illinois squad after intermission.
She scored all of her team-high eight points following the break. Teammate J'Lynn Ayers, from Danville, scored six points, and the Eastern Illinois team's top rebounder was Shiloh's Larissa Moses (seven).
Ayers is looking for redemption today.
"We need to go out and play more relaxed," Ayers said. "If we play defense, the offense will come."
The biggest edge for Western Indiana was a 21-3 edge from three-point range. A-P's Brooke Markwalder hit her team's lone three-pointer. For all other points scored, Indiana held a 40-38 edge.
The other Indiana edge, Hipsher said, wasn't one that showed up in the statistics. The winning team had four starters from the same high school team (Seeger).
"That's definitely an advantage," Hipsher said. "They were probably running their high school's offense, and this was the first night we had all 11 of our players together."
St. Joseph-Ogden's Josey Fruhling, who scored the first basket for the Eastern Illinois squad, received the game's sportsmanship plaque.
Markwalder and Oakwood's Makenzie Baker each had five rebounds for an Illinois team that held a 43-41 advantage on the boards.