By Tony Hooker
After defeating Arthur Lovington by forty points in December, Coach Dan Sappenfield knew that overconfidence would be an issue for his Blue Devils girls’ basketball team in the semifinals of the inaugural Lincoln Prairie Conference tournament. “The last time we played, they were a different team,” Sappenfield said. They had a lot of kids injured and I knew it was going to be a lot different this time. They’re young, but they’re going to be good.”
True to Sappenfield’s worries, the Devils quickly fell behind 5-0 before a pair of Kyleigh Block three-pointers gave VGH a 6-5 lead that they would never relinquish in a 57-39 victory over the Lady Knights. Block would finish with sixteen points in the contest, as would Aliya Holloman, who shook off a show shooting start to match Block’s point total. Madie Burwell made her presence felt as well, helping to stem the tide by pulling down three offensive rebounds in the opening stanza. Burwell would finish with eleven points and nine rebounds, and Samantha Campbell pilfered five steals to power the Blue Devil defense.
Fall to Titans in Championship game
In front of a packed house, VGH came up short in their bid to win the first LPC tournament title, dropping a 62-49 decision to Tri County. The Titans, who finished fourth in the 2019 Class 1A tournament, are no strangers to pressure packed environments, and it showed as they jumped out to an early 6-0 lead before the Blue Devils were able to claw their way back into the game and finish the first quarter trailing 16-12. With renewed vigor, VGH was able to use ten points from Aliya Holloman to draw even at nineteen in the second quarter before forging ahead at 25-24. Holloman would finish with 15 points to lead the VGH effort. The two teams would then exchange buckets, with Villa Grove Heritage taking their last lead at 29-28. Jordyn Ray, who normally plays the role of facilitator, began to look for her shot in the quarter, tallying four of her eleven points. Ray would also hand out (unofficially) five assists. Kyleigh Block was the benefactor of several of those passes and would finish in double figures with twelve points while Madie Burwell would finish with six.