CHAMPAIGN — What a difference a year makes. Last year, Tori McCoy was good. This year, as a sophomore, she has turned the corner.
Her play borders on greatness.
McCoy and the host Sabers — the state’s top-ranked Class 2A girls’ basketball team — handled Danville 61-20 on Thursday night in first-round action of the Blue Star Country Classic.
McCoy had two blocks — one of which she rebounded and returned the distance for a layup — in the first 90 seconds as STM (2-0) led 8-0 before the Vikings had a shot that wasn’t blocked.
“She has a lot to play for now,” STM coach Chris Mennig said of the nation’s top-ranked sophomore. “Her personal motivation, both in the classroom and on the floor, is at a different place than it was last winter.”
Liz Bristow scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the first quarter, helping the Sabers to a 30-5 lead at the first break.
For the second game in three days, STM never trailed, but in Mennig’s mind, not everything was rosy.
“There are a lot more negatives than people realize,” he said. “Winning and losing is not what we’re worried about. It’s really minute details. There’s a lot to clean up.”
Alexis Hoskins led Danville (0-1) with nine points. Thirty of the Vikings’ 53 field goal attempts were from three-point range.
Schlarman 51, Urbana 29. The Hilltoppers — ranked in a tie for third in Class 1A — started slowly, trailing 6-5 after one quarter before pulling away for a convincing win. Sierra Bell had 19 points and Schlarman teammate Janelle Marion had a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds).
“We’ve only had three official practices, so I can’t expect a lot,” Schlarman coach Keith Peoples said, “but I expect them to come out and compete. The X’s and O’s will come.”
As for the state recognition, Peoples added, “We have the potential, but we lack a lot of experience to be ranked third. I don’t think we’re quite deserving, but it’s a great goal to shoot for.”
Urbana’s Kiara Moses scored 25 of her team’s 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds. The game marked the Urbana debut for first-year coach Jessica Bryan. Ronnie Portis had 12 rebounds.
A steal and conversion by Bell with 2:26 left in the opening half lifted the Hilltoppers into the lead for good, 16-14.
Mahomet-Seymour 45, Centennial 35. The Bulldogs (2-0) scored the first five points and never trailed, spoiling Jessi Beachey’s coaching debut with the Chargers. Maggie Schmidt hit two first-quarter three-pointers for M-S, which led 18-7 after eight minutes.
Two players who missed virtually all of last season were team leaders for the Bulldogs. Allison Fritz scored a game-high 14 points. Teammate Maddie See grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, giving her 25 in her first two games.
“Both are explosive and have worked hard to come back,” M-S coach Nathan Seal said. “Their goal was to come back stronger than they ever had been.”
Schmidt added 12 point for the Bulldogs. Jasmine Kyler led the Chargers with 10 points and six rebounds.
Central 50, Rantoul 40. Airiana Smith and Justice Winfield each scored 11 points and Scoyoniah Bowdry had 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Maroons opened the season with a win.