St. Thomas More vs. Teutopolis, 6:30 p.m. Friday
ST. THOMAS MORE (31-2)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
PG Randa Harshbarger Sr. 5-5 9.4
G Elizabeth Bristow Jr. 5-5 11.6
C Tori McCoy So. 6-4 18.7
F Lexi Wallen Jr. 6-0 15.4
F Courtney Wax Sr. 5-9 4.2
FYI: Sabers’ eighth-year head coach, Chris Mennig, has a 195-51 career record.
OFF THE BENCH
F Leah Allison So. 6-1 2.7
G Hannah Murray Jr. 5-4 1.5
G Eliza Kramer Fr. 5-7 2.8
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Danielle Repking So. 5-5 5.2
G Jessica Schumacher Sr. 5-9 6.0
G Cierra Thompson Sr. 5-6 10.7
C Haley Giles Sr. 6-0 3.2
F Madeline Hartke Sr. 5-9 12.6
FYI: Wooden Shoes’ ninth-year head coach, Laurie Thompson, has a 221-49 career record.
OFF THE BENCH
G Hannah Bueker Jr. 5-6 0.8
G Chelsey Hardiek Jr. 5-8 2.5
F Anna Hartke So. 5-10 4.9
Site: Redbird Arena, Illinois State University, Normal
Series: First meeting
TV: WCIX, Champaign, Springfield
Radio: WDWS (1400-AM), Champaign
FYI: Brian Moline and Scott Beatty will handle the radio play-by-play.
Fred Kroner’s storylines
1 There’s a reason these teams are in the semifinals. Coaches at both schools understand that the key for success in the postseason is to play a tough and competitive schedule, not just against schools in your classification, but above when possible. Teutopolis faced 14 teams that are either in Class 4A or 3A. Three of its losses were to 4A schools. Another was to 2A Breese Central, which it avenged earlier this week. T-Town is 11-3 against schools in larger classes. St. Thomas More follows a similar philosophy, traveling into Chicago to play in Whitney Young’s gymnasium, for example. The Sabers have an almost identical record in contests against larger schools, 11-2, losing at Young and in a neutral-site game to Kankakee Bishop McNamara.
2 What does it mean? The two schools have two common opponents, St. Joseph-Ogden and Bishop McNamara. Teutopolis defeated the Spartans 41-26 on Jan. 16. That game was played three days after St. Thomas More defeated the Spartans 71-30. STM also played the Spartans in the regional finals and won 80-35. Teutopolis beat McNamara 40-38 in early February. The short-handed Sabers (playing without Tori McCoy) lost to McNamara 84-70 in early December but gained revenge in the title game of the State Farm Classic later in the month in Bloomington, 70-53.
3 Throw stats out the door. To some, the season scoring averages of the STM leaders might not seem overly impressive. In truth, per-game totals don’t do the team justice. St. Thomas More’s team is winning games by an average of 30 points per game. Coach Chris Mennig is not one to leave starters in to build their stats. In one game this year, Tori McCoy played in one quarter. A better solution is to take the quarters McCoy has played, divide by four (the number of quarters in a game) and then compute her average. It comes out to 22.6, which is comparable to her 22.0 tournament average. Lexi Wallen is another whose production has picked up in the postseason as she has gotten more minutes on the court. Her tournament average is 20.2.
4 The best, ever. A state championship is the primary objective this weekend for St. Thomas More. There’s also a bonus that could come with a state title. Last year’s squad set the single-season record for victories with 32. This year’s squad enters the state semifinals with 31 wins. The school-record win totals for the 13-year-old program: 10 in 2001-02, coach Jamie O’Connor; 21 in 2003-04, coach Scott Easton; 22 in 2004-05, coach Bill Dreher; 25 in 2005-06, co-coaches Dreher and Chris Mennig; 25 in 2008-09, Mennig; 27 in 2011-12, coach Jason Schreder, and 32 in 2012-13, Mennig.
STM 57, Teutopolis 41
For St. Thomas More, this is a winnable game, but that is exactly what Breese Central thought in the super-sectional on Monday — and with good reason, based on a 51-35 January win against the Wooden Shoes — but the important point to remember is this is not a World Series best-of-seven format. This is one-game scenario and the age-old adage is true: Anything can happen on that one given night. If the Sabers avoid foul trouble and handle Teutopolis’ patient style, they can earn a repeat championship game berth. If not, T-Town has a shot at its sixth state crown.