McLouth girls make strides at JCN invite
McLouth High went 1-2 in last week's Jefferson County North Invitational.
It was a modest record in a tournament, but the MHS girls basketball squad made great strides.
The Bulldogs defeated Maranatha Academy, 50-40, in the quarterfinals, marking the first time since 2001 MHS won its first-round game.
That season, the Bulldogs placed second to Jeff West in the tournament.
This season, McLouth placed fourth in the tournament after finishing eighth last season.
That's a big jump for us," MHS coach Keith Miller said. "It's been awhile since we've been on the winner's side of the JCN tournament.
"We would have liked to come out with third place, but the girls played well."
Against Maranatha, Missy Rome led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16, while Rachael Thompson also was in double figures with 12. Rome leads the team in scoring with a 14.5 average.
McLouth fell in the semifinals to Atchison County, 44-22. The Tigers led, 22-12, at halftime and put the game away in the third quarter by limiting the Bulldogs to four points in the period.
Atchison County went on to win the tournament.
"Effingham (Atchison County) is in our substate, so that will give us an idea of what to prepare for in our substate," Miller said.
Against the Tigers, Rome again was top scorer for the Bulldogs with 11. Kylie Shufflebarger was second-leading scorer with four.
The loss put McLouth in a third-place game against Oskaloosa. The Bulldogs trailed by just three, 18-15, at halftime against their arch-rivals, but the Bears held on in the second half for a 41-31 win.
Against the Bears, Thompson was the leading scorer with 11, while Rome pitched in with nine.
"We had our chances against Oskaloosa," Miller said. "Oskie's just used to winning. It's hard to break through that mentality. Oskie didn't blow us a way by any imagination."
McLouth, 5-7 after last week's tourney, played Troy on Tuesday and will have another shot at Oskaloosa on Friday.
The Bulldogs extended their win streak to three games with the win against Maranatha before dropping two straight against Atchison County and Oskaloosa.
Miller said his team has been battling illness. For instance, Abby Annis played sparingly against Oskaloosa and didn't play in the first two games.
"Anytime you have a starter out and you're not very deep, that hurts," Miller said.
However, this week all team members appear to be healthy.
"We played hard," Miller said about the JCN tourney. "Everybody seems to be back this week and healthy. Hopefully that helps us out and we can get back on the winning track."