The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 12, 2014

Trojans come up cold against Timberwolves

The Commercial-News

---- — CHRISMAN — Armstrong-Potomac girls basketball coach Nick Hipsher wrote 77-35 on the board after his Trojans fell to Cissna Park Timberwolves, 51-41, in the IHSA Class 1A Chrisman Regional on Roger Beals Court.

That represented the record of the Trojans during the careers of seniors Johanna Bruens, Courtney Hambleton, Rachel Miles and Morgan Zindars.

“We are obviously disappointed with tonight,’’ said Hipsher. “But, I think this senior class has really turned this program around. Before this group of seniors got here, the program was down a little bit. Looking at the big picture, they have done a lot of good things and they have set a lot of building blocks for the future teams.’’

On Tuesday night, that message was not what the Armstrong-Potomac seniors, who won the school’s first conference title since 2002, wanted to think about.

“No, not really, we would rather be talking about our next game,’’ admitted senior Rachel Miles, who had a game-high 22 points for the Trojans. “We just talked about that in the locker room, and these four years haven’t been just about basketball — it was also about life with a great team.’’

Ultimately, the season for Armstrong-Potomac (20-6) came to an end because the Trojans could not get the ball in the basket enough times.

Armstrong-Potomac shot just 27.8 percent (15-of-54) and the Trojans were just 1-of-10 behind the 3-point arc.

“I don’t know what we shot, but I know we struggled from the outside,’’ Hipsher said. “Morgan (Zindars) hit the only 3 in the fourth quarter off that play we called.

“When you make shots, you look good. When you don’t, things don’t look very good.’’

Hipsher said that he thought the Trojans were getting good looks.

“The one thing I wish I had done was call more sets to get Morgan some more shots,’’ he said as Zindars was held to nine points on 4-of-16 shooting, but she was just 2-of-5 in the first half. “We really dug ourselves a hole in the first half.’’

Cissna Park, which has won 15 of its last 18 games, built a 36-20 halftime lead with sophomore Addison Stoller scoring 14 of her team-high 21 points and the Timberwolves were making 61.5 percent of their shots (16-of-26).

“We were talking in the locker room at halftime, it seemed like they didn’t miss a shot,’’ said Miles, who also had eight rebounds in addition to her 22 points. “It was definitely difficult for us to get the ball through the hoop.’’

Facing a 16-point halftime deficit, Hipsher challenged his team show its true character.

The Trojans slowly chipped away, getting within eight points (49-41) with 2 minutes, 5 seconds left on a basket by Johanna Bruens.

“We showed our character in that second half when we didn’t give up,’’ said Miles, who scored 12 points in the second half. “When we got it under double digits, I kept thinking that we were going to come all the way back and win the game. We just didn’t quite get it done.’’

Armstrong-Potomac went 0-for-4 from the field with three turnovers in the final two minutes as Cissna Park effectively used its spread offense to take time off the clock.

“Cissna Park has too good of ball handlers,’’ Hipsher said. “They can really spread the floor and chew up a bunch of clock.

“We just dug ourselves too big of a hole.’’

With the victory, the Timberwolves advance to Thursday’s IHSA Class 1A regional championship game. Cissna Park will face the Schlarman Academy Hilltoppers, a 37-34 winner over Shiloh, in the 7 p.m. title game.