Girls basketball: Wascher closes in on scoring mark as Eagles beat Urbana

CHARLESTON — Baker Gymnasium is like most every high school gymnasium.

The 84 feet of hardwood tucked inside a side entrance at Charleston High School with rows of red bleachers on both sides has become a common sight for Rantoul Township High School senior forward Kimmy Schwartz the last two Decembers.

So has watching Schwartz dive, hustle and scrap on nearly every inch of said floor. Schwartz was at her energetic best early with sophomore guard Jasmine Riggs at her best making late free throws to secure seventh place for the Eagles at the 20th annual Charleston Holiday Tournament after a 51-43 win against Urbana on Saturday afternoon.

“We work hard, and we all want to win,” said Schwartz, who wound up with eight points, six rebounds and four steals. “It’s nice to get the win, especially against Urbana, which is always a physical game. It’s a game we look forward to just because it is so physical, and it’s a game we both want to win.”

The win against Urbana (1-14) came after the Eagles (6-10) lost their first three games of the holiday tournament — 51-45 on Friday evening to Decatur Eisenhower, 73-57 against Taylorville on Friday morning and 54-29 to eventual tournament champion Effingham on Thursday afternoon — and ended a seven-game losing streak in the process.

“It’s nice to get that win,” RTHS head coach Jeff McKaufsky said. “It’s a win you’ve got to go out and get. (Seventh place) wasn’t our goal, but we needed to come out focused, and we did.”

RTHS senior forward Hannah Wascher moved her way up the school’s all-time scoring list on Saturday. Wascher poured in a game-high 24 points and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds.

“She’s a good post player,” Urbana head coach Aimee Smith said. “There’s a lot of good post players we play against, and I thought my kids did a decent job against her. She’s going to get her points. She’s strong, and she finishes well.”

Wascher now stands 70 points away from becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer and surpassing 1998 RTHS graduate Yolanda Smith for the top spot.

Wascher has 1,527 points heading into the Eagles’ home game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday against Corn Belt Conference foe Bloomington Central Catholic, with Smith not far away at 1,596 points. Wascher hit the 1,500-point plateau in the loss to Eisenhower.

“That’s exciting because not many people can even say they’ve reached 1,000 by their senior year, let alone when they graduate,” Wascher said. “It’s an accomplishment. It’s definitely a milestone in my high school career.”

If Wascher keeps scoring at the 23.2-points-per-game clip she’s on this season, Smith’s record could fall as early as next Monday’s 7:30 p.m. home game against rival Mahomet-Seymour.

RTHS received steady play from its bench on Saturday, with junior guards Ryann Dixon and Taylor Egerton, along with sophomore forward Logan Wascher and sophomore guard Rachel Mullen, combining for 12 points.

Dixon led the way with five, including a 3-pointer that stretched the Eagles’ lead to 17-8 with five seconds left in the first quarter before she added two free throws with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter to push the Eagles’ lead to 45-40.

“We’re missing some girls who were out of town, and I told the girls that were here that they’d have to step up,” McKaufsky said. “They did.”

The Eagles iced the game in the final 35 seconds when Riggs (seven points) went 4-for-4 at the foul line. The Eagles finished 22-of-31 (71 percent) at the free throw line while Urbana was only 4-of-12 (33 percent).

“We’ve been knocking (free throws) down all tournament,” McKaufsky said. “That was huge. In close games, we’ve got to knock those down, and that proved to be the difference. We’ll probably see Urbana again (in the postseason), and it’s going to be another physical game and another tight game.”

Notes: Sandwiched in between next Monday’s home game against Mahomet-Seymour and Thursday’s home game against Bloomington Central Catholic, the Eagles will play at 6 p.m. on Saturday at nonconference foe Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

— Hannah Wascher led the Eagles with 32 points against Eisenhower while Schwartz (five points) and sophomore forward Carson Church (four points) chipped in.

— Hannah Wascher had a team-high 26 points against Taylorville while Riggs and Schwartz each had six.

— Hannah Wascher finished with 17 points against Effingham, with Riggs, Church and Egerton each scoring four points.
mdaniels@rantoulpress.com

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