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In fitting fashion, the Vandalia girls basketball team broke the program's single-season wins mark by dominating on the defensive end against an overwhelmed St. Anthony squad Thursday, rolling to a 52-35 victory in a semifinal game of their own Class 2A Regional.
Vandalia (22-4) will go for its first regional title since 1993 tonight at 7:30 against Teutopolis. The Lady Wooden Shoes (26-4) will be shooting for their 17th regional crown.
St. Anthony shot just 18 percent from the field (9 of 50), including 5 of 25 shooting from 3-point range (20 percent), as it was unable to take advantage of Vandalia's season-high 26 turnovers.
The Lady Vandals set the tone defensively in the first quarter, forcing six St. Anthony turnovers while holding the Lady Bulldogs to 1 of 10 shooting from the field.
Vandalia looked poised to run away with the game midway through the second quarter, as a Laura Hobbie bucket capped a 12-1 run that had the Lady Vandals leading 21-7.
But St. Anthony trimmed Vandalia's lead to 10, 26-16, by halftime, and gave the host team a brief scare with a flurry of 3-pointers midway through the third quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs hit trifectas on three straight possessions at one point, and an Audra Kesler bucket at the 2-minute mark cut Vandalia's lead to just three points, 34-31, capping a 15-4 run.
St. Anthony's pressing, trapping defense gave Vandalia fits over the next minute-plus, as the Lady Vandals committed turnovers on three straight possessions. Fortunately, St. Anthony concurrently went ice cold from beyond the arc, and Vandalia regained control at the end of the quarter, as Cassie Warner hit a pair of free throws to give the Lady Vandals a 36-31 lead heading into the final period.
It would be a quarter the Lady Vandals would absolutely own, as their defense overwhelmed the Lady Bulldogs down the stretch, fueling a decisive 16-0 run.
St. Anthony committed turnovers on four straight possessions at one point, and two more Warner free throws at the 4:50 mark extended Vandalia's lead back to double digits for good.
Warner wound up scoring a game-high 20 points, hitting 6 of 12 from the field and 8 of 8 from the line. The versatile junior center had back-to-back 3-point plays in the first half to help VCHS jump out to its big early lead, and she added eight rebounds to a dominating Lady Vandals' effort on the boards.
Vandalia outrebouned St. Anthony 40-18, as senior Julianna Banal led the way with 13 boards, to go along with 10 points. Laura Hobbie chipped in 12 rebounds and eight points.
Shelby Cearlock scored 12 points despite battling foul trouble all night and eventually fouling out in the fourth quarter.
St. Anthony leading scorer Jaclyn Jansen was held to 11 points, four below her season average. The Lady Bulldogs (18-10) went 0 for 9 from the field in the fourth quarter, committing eight of their 16 turnovers.
Vandalia 13 13 10 16 - 52
St. Anthony 6 10 15 4 - 35
Vandalia scoring - Walton 1-5 0-2 2, Hobbie 3-5 2-7 8, Cearlock 2-6 6-7 12, Banal 5-10 0-0 10, Shields 0-0 0-0 0, Warner 6-12 8-8 20. Totals 18-38 16-24 52.
St. Anthony scoring - Wolke 0-3 2-2 2, Winkler 0-4 2-2 2, Koester 4-12 2-4 13, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Mumm 0-1 1-2 1, Jansen 3-14 3-4 11, Schmitt 2-8 2-2 6, Goekner 0-2 0-0 0, Zereusen 0-1 0-0 0, Stephens 0-3 0-2 0. Totals 9-50 12-16 35.
3-point goals - Vandalia 0 (Cearlock 0-1), St. Anthony 5-25 (Wolke 0-2, Winkler 0-1, Koester 3-7, Jansen 2-10, Schmitt 0-1, Stephens 0-2, Jensen 0-1). Rebounds - Vandalia 40 (Banal 13, Hobbie 12), St. Anthony 18 (Jansen 5). Turnovers - Vandalia 26, St. Anthony 16. Personal Fouls - St. Anthony 19, Vandalia 13. Fouled out - Cearlock, Jansen. Record - St. Anthony finishes 18-10.