'Proving them wrong': How the young SHG girls basketball team won the City Tournament

·4 min read
The Sacred Heart-Griffin girls basketball team celebrates its win in the 2021-22 City Tournament in Springfield.
The Sacred Heart-Griffin girls basketball team celebrates its win in the 2021-22 City Tournament in Springfield.

It might not have been the Sacred Heart-Griffin girls basketball team's time to win the City Tournament, but the young Cyclones are city champs nonetheless.

And on Monday, the Cyclones put any doubt to the outcome early by outscoring Lanphier 23-6 in the first quarter en route to a 60-38 win at Jim Belz Gymnasium in Springfield.

It is the third time in a row SHG has been crowned City Tournament champions. In the abbreviated 2021 spring season, the tournament champion was named to the team which had the best record during the regular-season series between SHG, Lanphier, Southeast and Springfield High.

“It does feel really good,” junior Cheresse Mitchell said. “It’s so nice: three years in a row. When I first came in here, we won city that year too, so it's amazing.”

Before this three-year run, SHG hadn’t won the title since 2010.

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Young squad of Cyclones

The Cyclones (15-8 overall, 11-2 Central State Eight Conference, 3-0 City) have just one senior — Meghan Wegner — on a roster filled with sophomores and juniors. And in Monday’s rescheduled game, SHG showed again it has several players capable of scoring.

“A lot of people think our odds are not good for us since we are a young team, but we've been proving them wrong and giving it our all and it's been showing,” sophomore Callie Huston said.

SHG sophomores Callie Huston (left) and Maggie Fleischli (20) combined for 32 points as the Cyclones secured the Girls City Tournament title on Monday against Lanphier. Huston and Fleischli are pictured from Saturday guarding Springfield High's Virtuous Komolafe.
SHG sophomores Callie Huston (left) and Maggie Fleischli (20) combined for 32 points as the Cyclones secured the Girls City Tournament title on Monday against Lanphier. Huston and Fleischli are pictured from Saturday guarding Springfield High's Virtuous Komolafe.

Huston led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds. She dominated the paint and was 10 of 15 shooting and grabbed six offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, Mitchell and sophomore Maggie Fleischli each had 11 points. Mitchell added 10 rebounds as SHG held a 44-35 edge on the glass.

Springfield High came in with the No. 1 seed. But SHG put itself in prime position when it upset SHS 47-46 on Saturday in the Bank of Springfield Center.

“We knew coming in here, we had to play our hearts out in this one,” Mitchell said. “We were not going to slack off after beating Springfield.”

In the third quarter, Lanphier put together an eight-point run but still found itself trailing 45-26. The Lions shot 6-for-13 in the period in the team’s finest eight-minute stretch but couldn’t cut into SHG’s lead enough to give the Cyclones a scare.

SHG's Callie Huston
SHG's Callie Huston

Lanphier senior Moriah Crawford led the Lions with 20 points and 12 rebounds while Cheyenne Trotter, another Lanphier senior, added 11 points and nine boards.

“They earned a win, jumped out on us in the first half,” Lanphier coach Doug Collins said of SHG. “We buried ourselves. I told the girls at halftime: let's just come back and play hard, just come back and play hard. Hats off to my team; proud of the effort the second half.”

Cheresse Mitchell
Cheresse Mitchell

Hot January

The Cyclones are 7-1 this month, have won four straight and eight of nine overall. But players and coach Steve Klunick point to a 59-29 loss to Quincy Notre Dame on Dec. 9 as the turning point.

“The QND game woke us up a little bit,” Klunick said. “They started buying in on the defense and they get after it. And I'm proud of these girls.”

Mitchell agreed the team focused on becoming better on the defensive end.

SHG boys: No celebrating just yet: SHG coach disappointed after City Tournament win

“From the beginning of the season, we've improved so much on our defense, like most of our practices have been on defense, defense, defense, because we knew that defense wins games,” Mitchell said.

“Even if your shots are not falling, if you can stay with them on defense, you'll most likely win or at least give the other team a good game. And that's what we've done the past couple of times, like if we've lost, we've given them a good defensive game, though.”

SHG closes out the month at Rochester on Friday.

Contact Ryan Mahan: 857-246-9756, ryan.mahan@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/RyanMahanSJR.

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Girls City Tournament: SHG takes outright title with win over Lanphier

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