Brimfield and Fieldcrest girls basketball took different paths to the IHSA state finals
How fitting for Ella Lune to make the biggest shot of Brimfield’s season.
The senior’s go-ahead 3-pointer in the supersectional helped send Brimfield to the Class 1A girls basketball state finals for the first time since a 2009 1A fourth-place finish. On Thursday, the No. 1-ranked Indians (30-4) play unranked Neoga (28-7) in the 10 a.m. state semifinal at Redbird Arena in Normal.
“That’s Ella,” Brimfield coach Maribeth Dura said. “That’s why she’s going on to play at a Division I school. She’s a hustler and likes to win.
“She’s going to carry her team as far as she can go with what she can do.”
With Brimfield trailing by one to No. 2 Okawville with just over two minutes to play, the Eastern Illinois signee stepped up in Monday’s Elite Eight game. Lune received a pass at the top of the key, took one dribble and shot from just behind the arc.
IHSA girls basketball state finals:Predicting the Illinois state champions
The ball took a bounce off the front of the rim and dropped through the net for a 43-41 lead.
“Nobody thought it was going to go in,” Dura said, “and somehow it just spun backwards and then kind of jumped up and went through. … It took some effort for the ball to get itself into the basket.”
The six-year coach has no problem having her versatile 6-foot wing shoot 3s. In fact, Lune, who leads the Indians with 19.8 points a game, has shot 40.4 percent from long range, making a team-best 51. Dura says she’s ‘super happy’ Lune has developed a shot that’s been so effective, especially in some critical times.
“Ella’s always got a green light,” Dura said. “It wasn’t a bad shot, and it wasn’t at a bad time because she can hit those and as it happened, she did.
“That’s what she does. That’s why she’s so good.”
Fieldcrest boasts a ‘total’ team
In its first Class 2A state finals appearance, Fieldcrest has rode the back of its five starters. The No. 6 Knights (34-2) will rely on that quintet as they take on top-ranked Winnebago (34-2) in the 4:15 p.m. Thursday state semifinal.
Those starters make up a bulk of Fieldcrest’s scoring — 51.5 of the 54.3 points per game scored.
“Selfless basketball, right there,” Fieldcrest coach Mitch Neally said, “and that’s kind of what I’ve been preaching her since Day 1. We’ve had some great players but there’s selfless with the ball and they accept their role.
“They’re not wanting to do more than they have to. They trust their teammates.”
Ashlyn May is the leading scorer at 12.6 points, while Kaitlin White puts up 11.6 and Haley Carver scores 10.1 a game. Ella Goodrich chips in at 9.4 points and Carolyn Megow scores 8.5 points.
All five have been the Knights' leading scorer in at least three different games.
“You can’t zero in on one girl,” Neally said, “and if you do, then we’ll make that pass and we’ll find a girl and she’ll lead us in points that night.
“That just makes it a fun group to watch too, you know. As a coach, I don’t like seeing just one player do their thing. That’s what’s made us successful.”
Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.