Tri-County girls done in by big fourth quarter
ARCOLA — Tri-County girls’ basketball had enough for a comeback, but couldn’t supply the finishing touch.
Trailing by seven points at halftime of Thursday’s Class 1A Arcola Sectional championship game, Tri-County pulled into a 33-33 tie entering the final quarter, but ultimately had its eight-game winning streak ended by Christ Our Rock Lutheran, from Centralia, 55-48.
The Titans (26-5) finish as one of the final 16 teams in Class 1A.
A season-long staple — the defense — picked up steam in the third quarter, helping the Titans get back in the game.
“We play a 1-3-1 zone, but in the third quarter, we went man and got some steals,” Tri-County coach Joe Morrissey said.
He wasn’t surprised by his team’s ability to rally.
“We’re in shape,” he said. “We run and press, and we’ve ran a lot of teams out of gas.”
In the fourth quarter, however, the comeback bid stalled. The difference came at the free-throw line. Christ Our Rock Lutheran (26-5) hit 12 of 21 shots from the charity stripe during the last eight minutes.
The fouls hurt the Titans in a second way.
“We had three girls foul out,” Morrissey said.
Shayne Smith led the Titans with 16 points. Harley Barry scored 10 points, including eight in the final quarter. She also hauled down a team-high 11 rebounds. Teammate Miaya Eskew chipped in eight points.
The season produced unexpected results for the Titans. When asked what his reaction would have been in the preseason if someone predicted a 26-win run, Morrissey said, “I’d thought you were probably crazy.”
Smith was the lone senior in a program with a bright future. The one graduating player, however, will be a major one to replace.
“(Smith) became a basketball player this year,” Morrissey said. “As a senior, she grew up.”