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MTZ girls basketball season ends in Sectional Semis

Denver Anderson fires a pass inside to Jocelyn Turner in a 51-34 loss against Chatham Glenwood at the IHSA 3A Sectional Semifinal at MacArthur.

By BLAKE FAITH
Staff Writer

The Mt. Zion girls basketball team’s season ended last week with a 51-34 loss against Chatham Glenwood at the IhSA 3A MacArthur Sectional Semifinal.

“We had a good first quarter overall,” Head coach Steve Marvel said. “We let them sort of bully us in the second quarter and we didn’t do things we worked on. We also let some calls get to us and the u played a great game, so credit to them. The crazy thing is I felt so good about today.

The calmest I’ve probably ever been before in a big game in my life. I got a special team and they’re still a special team regardless of the outcome tonight. And I’m just really proud of the girls. That’s why we were spending some time there talking about that. And I just love the team, love the successes they had this year and we had incredible successes. And hopefully this is the standard we keep reaching forward.”

The Braves started off battling with a Miya Means deep mid-range jumper that tied the game at 2-2. Denver Anderson had a chance to give the Braves a lead but missed both free-throws at the line. Addy Rotz then found Maddie Kendall who made the lap to give the Braves a 4-2 lead.

Rowann Law tied the game with two free-throws and then the Titans took the lead with a Katelyn Lehnen three-pointer. Anderson then went down and nailed two free-throws to cut the Titans’ lead to 7-6.

Anderson nailed another pair of free-throws at the end of the quarter that cut the Titans’ lead to 11-9. The Braves continued to keep within two points until Makenna Yeager drove to the rim and finished through the and-one play to put the Titans up 16-11.

The Braves responded with Ella Fink finding Jocelyn Turner for the finish and then Ava Anderson found Denver Anderson for a finish that cut the Titans’ lead to 18-15.

The Titans finished the quarter on a 8-0 run that ended in a 26-15 halftime lead. In the third quarter, the Braves chipped at that lead when Anderson found Turner who finished through the contact and finished the and-one plus. Turner then made the block and rebound on the defensive side.

The Titans went up 29-20 after an Ava Bob three pointer. Turner would make her fifth block of the ball game but with 4:56 left in the third quarter, the Titans led 32-20.

Anderson finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Turner ended the game with 10 points, five blocks and seven rebounds.

The Braves finished their season 20-13 overall, 4-5 in Apollo Conference play and with their consecutive regional championship.

“This season was a roller coaster,” Coach Marvel said. “I thought we would finish with a better record. I’m not gonna lie. I thought we would finish higher in the conference, but there was just sometimes it was hard to figure out some of the things and to get into the swing of things and it was still an incredibly successful season. In fact we’ve won 20 games back -to -back seasons, and won regional back to back seasons. I just told the girls in there we have a great foundation coming back next year and this should be our standard for every season is 20 wins and compete for a regional championship.”

Marvel continued, “I have a great freshman class coming in there and a great foundation that’ll be back next year. I’m excited for the next several years and what they bring and what we can hopefully accomplish and continue to be a highly successful program just like so many other programs here in Mt. Zion. “

The Braves will graduate Denver Anderson, Avery Kyburz and Means. The Braves will retrain Fink, Turner, Kendall, Rotz, Ava Anderson and Naomi Schmahl.

“I am so proud of Miya, coming back from injuries and battling and thought she played a hell of a game tonight. She was great. She never questions anything, accepts her role, does everything, works her tail off so super proud. I told Aver that she is going to be a hard kid to replace, because I know she doesn’t get a lot of playing time, but she is the perfect teammate. All of her teammates love her. She’s been the glue of the team. She’s just a fantastic kid. Gonna be hugely successful in life. Just super proud of her sticking with things and doing things and having the success that she’s had. When I got ready for the run tonight, she was crying. I said, you’re playing. I don’t care. You’re going out on the court. My three seniors are finishing their career on the court here. It doesn’t matter. I was glad for her to get out there. Thought her shot was going in. It would have been a great way for her to end. And Denver, what can you say? I know I got into it pretty hard on the sideline and the timeout. Challenged her a little bit. I thought she responded to that. But that kid is a generational player. You look at all the records she has in the school, everything she’s done. And to do that in a COVID year and just to have the success that she’s had, it’s incredible. She should be all state and multiple IDC, AP, all of that. So I am just super proud of her. I think her growth as much in leadership and trust and all of that is as important as what she did with her successes on the court with the scoring and the assists and the rebounds and all of that. And you can’t replace a kid like that. You don’t get a kid like that very often. So you just enjoy it, celebrate it right away you can and see what happens in year 1 AD (After Denver).

Marvel continued, “I look at who is in my rotation. I started sophomore and two juniors and the two seniors towards junior year. Coming off the bench I have two sophomores and a junior in my top eight and that’s huge for me.”

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