Sages girls overwhelmed by BCC's stifling defense

Sages girls overwhelmed by BCC's stifling defense

CHAMPAIGN — Defense was at the heart of Monticello girls’ basketball’s 22-win season and its fourth straight regional title — a program first.

Defense was also central to the Sages’ Class 2A St. Thomas More Sectional championship showdown with regular postseason foe Bloomington Central Catholic. Just not necessarily in the way Monticello expected.

Central Catholic countered the Sages’ stingy defense with one of its own Thursday night. The Saints were the ones forcing the early turnovers, the contested shots.

Add a strong transition offense for the Saints, and Monticello dug itself a mighty big hole.

The Sages didn’t score their 10th point until midway through the third quarter and had their season come to an end with a 52-32 loss — the third time in four seasons Central Catholic delivered the final blow.

“They got to us a little bit once things started,” Monticello coach David Beery said. The Sages (22-5) fell behind 21-4 after one quarter of play.

“I felt like we were ready to go,” Beery continued. “We just fell apart. We didn’t do what we’re supposed to do on defense. We didn’t do a lot of things that we’ve been doing all year. I think it was more us than them. I think they got caught up in the game.”

Central Catholic coach Debbie Coffman said she didn’t want Thursday’s matchup to get bogged down into a halfcourt game. The Saints (20-10) obliged, forcing 25 Monticello turnovers and using 17 in the first half to ignite their transition offense for a 35-9 lead at the break.

“I think it caught them off guard just a little bit,” Coffman said. “That was probably one of our better defensive games that we’ve had. To be peaking at this point is a great time, especially starting off the season a little slow.”

Monticello scored more points in the fourth quarter (18) than it did in the other three quarters combined (14). Rachael Lockmiller and Tatum McCall finished with 10 points apiece for the Sages.

“We’ve had points where we’ve struggled scoring, but not like this,” Beery said. “That, probably as much as anything, caused us to get behind the 8-ball a little bit.”

Confidence turned the tide Thursday night. Central Catholic had it — from Sarah Brady (13 points) and Charlie Sartoris (10) finishing in double figures to a near triple-double from Bailey Coffman with seven points, nine blocks and 17 rebounds.

“We had our chances,” Beery said. “There were several possessions there at the very beginning of the game where we didn’t convert. We didn’t make free throws.

“Talking about snowballing, you’ve got to get on the plus side of confidence. We could never get on the plus side of confidence. Some of that wasn’t them. That was just us.”

Even with four straight regional championships for the senior class, Beery’s disappointment for his team came in not clearing the next hurdle in that span.

“They’ve accomplished something nobody else at the school in the girls’ basketball program has accomplished,” he said. “It started going downhill and just kept going downhill. I hate for that to happen in this kind of game and this kind of situation.”

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