Article:    
SHG makes school history with first sectional title
2/22/2019 9:49 AM

TAYLORVILLE — Payton Vorreyer scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Sacred Heart-Griffin High School won its first girls basketball sectional title with a 53-44 win over Bethalto Civic Memorial in the Class 3A Taylorville Sectional championship game on Thursday.

SHG never trailed in taking down the state’s No. 7-ranked Eagles.

The Cyclones (28-6) will face Effingham (26-6) at 7 p.m. Monday in the Springfield Supersectional. Effingham beat Breese Mater Dei 42-40 Thursday to win the Salem Sectional. The supersectional game will be played at The Recreation and Athletic Center on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

Vorreyer said she didn’t feel the need to put the team on her back.

“It was a team effort,” Vorreyer said.

She was right.

After a low-scoring first half — SHG led 19-13 — the teams came out of the locker room firing in the second half.

“I thought Sacred Heart had a great game plan,” Civic Memorial coach Jonathan Denney said. “I thought they did a nice job defensively.”

Cyclones senior forward Victoria Zeigler scored six of her 11 points in the third quarter. That included hitting all four free throws she took in the period.

“I knew they were going to come back after halftime and have some spark in them, so I knew if I countered that spark, we’d get the win,” Zeigler said.

Then it was Vorreyer’s time to take over.

After Kourtland Tyus — who had 13 of her team-high 19 points in the third — pulled Civic Memorial (29-6) within 35-31 with her third 3-pointer, Vorreyer closed out the period with five straight points with two layups and a free throw. That put SHG on top 40-31.

But more importantly, Civic Memorial’s all-state candidate, junior Anna Hall, picked up her fourth foul with 1 minute 10 seconds left — when Vorreyer drew the and-one — and put the Eagles’ leading scorer, with 17.6 points per game, on the bench. Hall finished with 12 points.

“I thought (SHG) played (Hall) pretty tight and made it tough for her to get the ball,” Denney said. “But there was a handful of times, especially early, where she got the ball and didn’t even look at the basket — she just turned and passed it back out. She hasn’t done that all year.”

If Hall struggled, Tyus tried to carry her team.

“She started going off. We lost her twice and I’ll be darned if she didn’t make 3s on that,” SHG coach Steve Klunick said. “That’s how good she is.

“We knew one person couldn’t guard her, so we just kept moving players on her. I think five different people guarded her today.”

In the fourth, Vorreyer scored nine points and went 7-for-8 at the free-throw line to ice the victory.

Twice, SHG caught the Civic Memorial defense off guard and went the length of the court for layups. The Cyclones got their first basket when Sofie Lowis found a streaking Maggie Gilmore to give them a lead 25 seconds into the game. And they got their final field goal when the Lowis found Gilmore behind the Eagles’ defense once again.

“Sofie was making plays out there on the spot,” Gilmore said. “When the chance first arose, we made eye contact and then I was gone. I just sprinted for it. I definitely didn’t think (the play) was available but when Sofie and I made eye contact again, I took off.”

At a school that has five state football championships, it’s fitting the game was capped with a quarterback-to-receiver-type play.

“Sofie had a perfect pass both times,” Gilmore said. “A little play for (SHG football coach Ken Leonard).”

Lowis had the primary ball handling duties, and against the Eagles’ pressure, SHG had just 16 turnovers.

“They were a great defensive team,” Lowis said. “It was tough to get around and my teammates stepped up and Jillian Hulcher did an amazing job helping bringing (the ball) down.”

SHG hadn’t won a regional title since 2002 and is one step away from a state appearance. And as the Eagles turned up the pressure, the Cyclones kept their composure.

“It was going to be different, but our sophomores are so composed,” Vorreyer said. “We have five seniors that are all leaders, so it is just a team effort.”

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