EAST CHAIN - Granada-Huntley-East Chain freshman center Rachel Shumski scored a game-high 19 points, including a free throw with 25 seconds left, to give the Mustangs girls basketball team a 44-41 Valley Conference Showcase victory over the St. Clair Cyclones on Monday night in East Chain.
Shumski shot 5 of 8 in the second half from the floor, including a jumper in the lane with less than 5 minutes to go to help the Mustangs maintain their lead.
The freshman then sank one free throw during the final minute before her final basket gave the Mustangs a 44-41 lead with 25 seconds remaining and the eventual win.
PROTECTING?THE?BALL –– Granada-Huntley-East Chain’s Rachael Sauck (left) uses Anna Balcom’s screen on St. Clair defender Danielle Boettcher (3) to drive to the basket during Valley Conference Showcase basketball action Monday night at East Chain School. Photo by Leanna Becker
After the Mustangs trailed 23-22 at halftime, Cyclones' senior guards Kelsey Linnell and Chelsea Schull nailed a pair of 3-pointers to open the half and extend St. Clair's lead to 32-25.
"I thought we played more aggressive defense in the second half on the inside and did a better job of anticipating the pass," said Granada-Huntley-East Chain head coach Rick Uttech. "We tried to trap their shooters to change things up. Hopefully, do a better job on them."
Amanda Cegelske split the pair of Cyclones 3s with her own trifecta from the wing to help the Mustangs stay within single-digit striking distance.
The Mustangs were able to recapture the lead with 9 minutes left in the game.
After a pair of passes were tipped off Cyclone defenders, Cegelske finished back-to-back inbounds plays by rolling to the hoop for layups to take a 37-35 advantage.
Cyclone sharp-shooter Chelsea Schull sank a 3 from the top of the key to bring her team back, making it 43-41 with 1:19 left on the clock.
Linnell, who went 5 of 12 from behind the 3-point line to pace a team-leading 16-point scoring effort, hit a 3-pointer to keep St. Clair close, but eventually fouled out in the final minute.
The Mustangs jumped out to an early lead, thanks to Anna Balcom's eight first-half points, but the Cyclones' outside shooting kept them in the game.
Cegelske swished a jump shot in the lane with 5 minutes remaining in the opening half, making it 21-17 in the home team's favor.
Linnell sank back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Cyclones their first lead of the game at 23-21.
Balcom's eight-point first half effort, along with Cegelske's eight points, added to the Mustangs' offensive attack.
In addition to Linnell's 16-point effort, Schull scored 11 points and Katelyn Weber scored 10 for the Cyclones.
Weber also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, while Cegelske led the Mustangs with six boards.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (11-6, 7-4 Valley) travels to Cleveland for a 7:30 p.m. Showcase game on Thursday.
St. Clair (9-11, 6-5 Valley) hosts Martin Luther in a 7:30 p.m. Showcase game on Thursday.