By Pilar Barrio Sanchez
Charleston couldn’t have asked for a better last home game.
After a rough six weeks without their best player, the Trojans appear to be peaking in the right moment as they beat Effingham 61-31 Monday night at Charleston High School.
“This is probably the best game we have played together as a team,” Charleston coach Jeff Miller said. “I am really excited about these kids, our overall effort today was an A-plus”
Miller has been giving a lot of responsibility and minutes to a group of freshmen who have responded by stepping up for the occasion in the last part of the season. On Monday night, freshman Maggie Goetten hit five 3-pointers and a field goal for 17 points.
Said an exuberant Miller: “What about Maggie? She made five or six 3-pointers. I don’t think she has made that many in the whole year.”
Goetten did not score the last time these two teams met, a 50-44 loss on Dec. 9.
“I am feeling more confident than I did in the beginning of the season,” Goetten said. “At first, it was really intimidating, but now I am way more comfortable. So today I shot a lot, and it worked out.”
Littleford led all scorers, but unlike the first game between these two teams, she did not have to carry the team. She scored a game-high 19 points Monday night, 14 fewer than in December. That’s because her teammates provided a potent supporting cast. Like Goetten, several other freshmen stepped up.
Alycia Triplett scored 12, Erin Blair added six and Delainey Meister contributed five and also played well under the boards, earning praise from Miller after the game for her effectiveness in key moments.
This is all good news for Charleston, which faces Olney twice in the next seven days – on Thursday in its season finale and next Monday in the regional opener at Richland High School. The Tigers are ranked No. 1 in the region and in the sub-sectional.
“We definitely have a chance against Olney if we continue to play like we do,” Littleford said. “We just have to start the game at Olney like we did tonight.”
Charleston started the game strong with a 20-4 run by scoring five 3-pointers to finish the first quarter ahead 25-8.
Littleford visibly encouraged her teammates to shoot, dishing out five assists in the quarter. She finished with eight assists.
“Our freshmen really stepped up and took a lot of pressure off me,” Littleford said. “They knocked down shots, and I was able to move the defense and get them open.”
Earlier this season, Miller said that if the freshmen continued to improve during Littleford’s absence with an injury, his team might have a shot in the postseason. Charleston is now 9-16 overall and 3-9 in the conference.
They’ll find out over the next week. The winner of Monday’s game would then face the winner of the Effingham-Mt. Vernon game for the regional championship.
“Olney is the number one seed in our sub-sectional,” Miller said Monday night. “We know we have to work it out for us, but I am excited if we continue to play at this level.”
CHARLESTON: Goetten 6 0-0 17, Triplett 5 2-2 12, Meister 1 0-0 5, Blair 0 0-0 6, Littleford 4 5-6 19, Herrington 1 0-0 2, Logsdon 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0, Lane 0 0-0 0, Long 0 0-0 0, Campbell 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 24-35 69. 3-pointers – Goetten 5, Meister 1, Littleford 2, Blair 2.
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