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IMG4842   For the second time this season, the Central Lady Cougars picked up a double-digit victory after a 41-24 rout over Belleville West in the O’Fallon Shootout on Saturday afternoon at the Panther Dome.
   Neither team had their best offensive efforts on the afternoon while the Cougars’ defense once again shone for the victory.
   Central set the defensive tone in the first quarter, allowing the Lady Maroons just one field goal while they turned the ball over six times.
   Meanwhile, Central got four field goals from four different players.  Sophomore Dixie Ottenschnieder got things going for the Cougars on a driving bucket before Ja’Mya Company got the game tied for the last time at 2-2 with 90 seconds gone in the contest.
   Central scored the next seven points with Melanie Hilmes scoring on a layup and Haley Ottenschnieder scoring on a short bucket.  A charity shot from Kylie Rakers and a bucket from Cece Toennies gave the Lady Cougars a 9-2 lead with 90 seconds left in the initial quarter.
   Toennies and Keyara Baerga each had a charity shot down the stretch as the Cougars led 10-3 after one quarter of play.
   “I was happy with the effort,” said Central head coach Nathan Rueter.  “I was disappointed in the shot selection.  But we are in a unique situation with a lot of young kids that are learning.”
   The Cougars’ defense was spot on in the second quarter as the Lady Maroons did not have a bucket until the final five seconds of play on a Central turnover.
   “I’m happy with the win, but I think we are a better team than we showed today,” added Rueter.  “We just have to take better care of the basketball.  And a lot of them were unforced turnovers.”
   West managed just two single charity shots from Company in the quarter before Aniyla Branson stole the ball from Central and hit a layup just as the final halftime horn sounded.
   Prior to that, the Cougars got two field goals from freshman Taylor Trame and four points from Haley Ottenschnieder as they led 18-7 at the break.
 
   Haley Ottenschnieder led the Cougars with six points at the half as they were collectively 7-of-22 from the field with eight turnovers.  West had four points from Company in a frame where they had nine turnovers.
   West came out on fire in the second half with two steals and three-pointers from Baerga and Tikylah Harris as the Maroons got within 18-13 with three minutes gone in the third quarter.
   Claire Albers had a big putback bucket to end the scoring run from West before Company hit another driving basket to get the Maroons within 20-15 midway through the quarter.
   Toennies took over from there, getting the next six points and three boards for the Cougars as the lead went back up to 26-15 with 2:30 on the clock.
   Trame added a pair of charity shots while Company completed a three-point play down the stretch with CHS leading 28-18 entering the final frame.
   The lead grew to 13 points on a charity shot from Rakers and a mid-range jumper from Kaydence Schroeder.
   Belleville West got two buckets from Branson and another from Jaylynn Rook getting within 33-24 with 4:50 left in regulation.
   The Cougars sealed the deal by scoring the final eight points of the contest on two buckets and two charity shots from Trame and two more free throws from Haley Ottenschnieder.
   Trame paced all players with 12 points on 4-of-5 from the line and 4-of-5 from the floor with two boards.
   Toennies added 11 points on 4-of-5 from the floor and 3-of-5 from the line with six rebounds.  Haley Ottenschnieder had eight points.  Schroeder led all players with 10 rebounds.
   “Cece was definitely the player of the game for us today,” concluded Rueter.  “She played great.  She gave us some big-time hustle plays when we needed them.  Her length gave them some problems.”
   The Cougars were 14-of-38 from the floor including 0-of-4 from the arc.  They were 13-of-22 from the line with 17 turnovers.  The Cougars got 25 points off the bench.

   West got seven points from Baerga and six from Company.  West was 9-of-42 from the field and they turned it over 14 times.