High School Girls Basketball
Lady Railers win the Morton Thanksgiving Tournament

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[November 27, 2023] 

The Lady Railers Varsity basketball team won the 14th Annual Morton Thanksgiving Tournament on Saturday evening after defeating the Lady Potters 66-50.

Earlier in the day Lincoln dominated East St. Louis 75-18.

Kloe Froebe, Jenna Bowman, and Becca Heitzig were named to the all-tournament team. Froebe (29.3 ppg.) and Heitzig (10.5 ppg.) each averaged double-figures for the tournament.

Game three of the tournament versus East St. Louis

This matchup was a blowout from the beginning, with Lincoln sprinting to a 32-7 first quarter lead behind 19 points from Kloe Froebe in the first eight minutes.

The bench was already entering the game in the second quarter, with Makinley Knapp and Mia Clark making waves. Each of them added four points in the quarter and the lead was 41-12 at the half.

The starters returned to see a little action in the third quarter. Froebe tossed in nine more points and Taryn Stoltzenburg added two 3s and a field goal. With Clark, Mesa McCloud and Piper Whiteman adding field goals and Lily Holmes nailing a free throw, the Lincoln lead was almost laughable with the score 65-16 at the end of three quarters.

The running clock in the fourth quarter ended the misery for the Flyerettes but not before Knapp poured in six more points to lead Lincoln to the final score of 75-18.

Kloe Froebe outscored East St. Louis by finishing with 29 points. Taryn Stoltzenburg hit her season-high so far with 13 points. And once again, Knapp is making good use of her Varsity minutes by hitting double-figures with 10 points.

Every player for Lincoln entered the scoring column.

Game four of the tournament versus Morton

The game between Lincoln and Morton was bound to be the marquee matchup in the evening, with Morton being one of the most successful girls basketball programs in Central Illinois.

Enter the “hungry for a state championship” Lady Railers, who boast a rich history of basketball success themselves, and this one was guaranteed to be more than worth the price of admission.

With Lincoln winning the tip, Kloe Froebe scored a layup within six seconds. Froebe was also quick to drain a three and with the 5-0 lead, Morton’s coach, Bob Becker, called a timeout. Morton turned the ball over after the timeout and it was business as usual for Froebe and Becca Heitzig, with Heitzig making the layup and Lincoln in the lead 7-0. Morton got their first points and shot of the game at the 6:04 mark to make it a 7-2 ballgame. Tori Geriets’ layup stretched the lead to 9-2. After a couple Froebe free throws the lead was 11-2 and Lincoln was indeed on a mission early. After Froebe launched a three from about three more feet beyond the three-point line, the lead was 14-4 and the girls had barely played four minutes. Morton answered with a three but that literally did no damage. Froebe answered back with a two-point field goal and then seconds later added a three from the top of the key. Nothing but net, she nailed it. The Lincoln lead was now 19-9 and the Morton team knew they had run into a freight train. Little did they know at this time that the “little engine that could” would be Becca Heitzig. Meanwhile the first quarter score ended with no drama and a 20-13 Lincoln lead. Froebe had a sweet 16 points in that first quarter to lead the Lady Railers.

The second quarter continued with a bit of a rough edge to it. Both sides have great athletes and they each were not about to back down from the physical nature of the game. Morton got a couple buckets here and there to close the gap a bit but Lincoln always had a plan. Tori Geriets knocked in a couple key baskets in the second quarter. And with Heitzig and Froebe feeding off each other, that diehard defense just creates offense and they like to take turns with the buckets so that is always fun to watch. After a Morton layup the score was 28-22 but that did not last long. Froebe, with help from the fantastic four on the court with her, poured in seven straight points and Lincoln was quickly up 35-22. In the midst of that 7-0 run, the toughness of Heitzig cannot be overlooked. Heitzig even dove on the court for the ball, simply took it from the Lady Potter and dished it off to Froebe. If you were watching Heitzig for the first time on the court, you might think, “That girl would make a good rugby player.” Pound for pound she’s one tough athlete. Heitzig needed a little help from Froebe when her and a Morton defender got tied up under the basket and once they untangled, it was obvious there was no mutual admiration between them. Heitzig was called for the foul and took a breather on the bench.

Then it was Morton’s turn for a little run. The Lady Potters closed the gap to 35-27. Each team then traded baskets before the half, with Taryn Stoltzenburg scoring a layup for Lincoln on the beautiful pass from Piper Whiteman.

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The halftime score was settled on 37-29 as both teams trotted to their respective locker rooms.

Heitzig came out in the second half pumped and hit a jumper from the corner by the Lady Railers bench and then after a steal by Geriets, Heitzig hit Froebe with the pass for the layup and the 41-29 lead. After Froebe hit two free throws to make the score 43-33, Heitzig was at it again. She was not to be denied. She drained another little baseline jumper good for a 46-37 lead. She also got fouled on a layup and sank the ‘and one’ which gave Lincoln a 49-38 advantage. Heitzig ended the quarter by going back door and kissing the glass after catching the beautiful bounce pass through the lane from Froebe. Heitzig led the team with 10 points scored in the quarter and once the three by Jenna Bowman was figured in, the Lady Railer lead was 56-43.

The fourth quarter was not much of a challenge for Lincoln and with the pace slowing down a bit, the Lady Railers were able to get a few easy buckets on layups. Stoltzenburg had four points in the quarter and Whiteman, Bowman and Froebe each added one bucket to seal the 66-50 victory.

Froebe at the free throw line. She would finish with 33 points against the Lady Potters.

Kloe Froebe led all scorers with 33 points. Froebe is well on her way to cementing her legacy as the best Lady Railer basketball player in history. Everything she does that is not accounted for in the scoring column is phenomenal. Steals, assists, rebounds, running the floor, holding back Heitzig, you name it, she does it.

Becca Heitzig finished the game with 14 points and zero new friends made in Morton. Heitzig played fantastic and when she wasn’t sinking shots, she was wreaking havoc on defense. Her intensity was next level and she still flashed an occasional smile to let everyone know she was having fun.

Taryn Stoltzenburg, Jenna Bowman, Tori Geriets and Piper Whiteman rounded out the offense against Morton and they were each outstanding on the defensive end as well.

Of course, just four games into the season, Coach Taylor Rohrer will always analyze what needs to be worked on, but overall for the beginning of the season dubbed #unfinishedbusiness and #onegoal2024 this opening weekend of basketball by the Lady Railers was impressive. Despite their long and successful run in volleyball, they picked up the basketball and ran with it like they had never put it down. A tournament championship is a great way to kick off the 2023-24 campaign.

Taking a glance at the past 14 Morton Thanksgiving tournaments, Morton has dominated and won 9 times. Moline won the tournament in its first year, 2009. Peoria Richwoods is a three-time winner of the tournament. And in the year 2020 the tournament was canceled due to Covid.

Lincoln is currently the only undefeated team in tournament history with a 4-0 record.

This week is a great opportunity to see the Lady Railers play in person, as they have three home games.

Tuesday vs. Decatur MacArthur

Thursday vs. Bloomington

Friday vs. Sacred Heart-Griffin

All JV games will tip-off at 5:30 p.m.

All Varsity games will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.

Scoring vs. East St. Louis

Lincoln 75

Froebe 29
Stoltzenburg 13
Knapp 10
Clark 6
Geriets 4
Heitzig 2
Whiteman 2
Bowman 2
Schneider 2
Adams 2
McCloud 2
Holmes 1

East St. Louis 18

Pitts 6
Mosely 5
Stringer 4
Evans 2
Heidelberg 1

Scoring vs. Morton

Lincoln 66

Froebe 33
Heitzig 14
Stoltzenburg 6
Geriets 6
Bowman 5
Whiteman 2

Morton 50

Engel 14
Hutchinson 12
A. VanMeenen 10
E. Van Meenen 8
Selke 4
Ruxlow 2

[Teena Lowery]

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