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Terra Ceia takes out Cresset

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
TERRA CEIA — There would be no need for overtime this time around for the Terra Ceia girls basketball team.
With a 64-50 win over Cresset, the Knights took one big swig of Listerine and cleaned out the bad taste in their mouth that lingered since the Eagles topped Terra Ceia 72-70 in quadruple overtime in the second round of the NCISAA 1-A state tournament last season.
Tuesday night it was payback time as the sixth-seeded Knights (18-12) hosted the 11th-seeded Eagles (12-12) in the first round of the NCISAA state tourney. Thanks to a tremendous defensive effort by Mariah Van Essendelft and Jordan Cantrell, Terra Ceia was able to bottle up the Eagles leading scorer Daniel Devlin and lock up a playoff victory.
Heading into Tuesday’s game Cantrell and his staff’s major concern was keeping Devlin from dominating on the offensive end, but with a defensive strategy that would make Bill Belichick proud, the Knights limited Devlin to 18 points.
Terra Ceia mixed up its defense throughout the game, shifting from different zone and man looks, but one constant was Van Essendelft staying glued to Devlin.
Van Essendelft’s defensive play forced Devlin’s teammates to have to step up and answer the call on offense, which they could not do.
The Knights however, got one of their best team offensive performances of the season as they had four players in double figures.
Jordan Cantrell led all scorers with 30 points, while Van Essendelft and Jessica Vanderweit each scored 12 and Jill Van Essendeflt had 11.
Aside from scoring 11 points, Van Essendelft also guarded Devlin at times and did a nice job.
Cantrell was explosive on offense, as she tallied a majority of her points knifing to the basket or in transition, while Vanderweit provided a strong low post presence.
After the game, Cantrell said that Jordan’s effort was one of her best all season.
Terra Ceia will play its second playoff game on Thursday at Carry Academy against the winner of the Wayne Country Day-Northeast game.
Parker grounds Eagles
Playoff time is when the truly great players elevate their game, and in Tuesday’s 81-62 thrashing of the Eagles, Terra Ceia’s Mychal Parker and Bradley Van Staalduinen rose to the challenge.
Parker was a scoring machine as he erupted for 44 points, while Van Staalduinen made his presence felt down low where he netted 18 points to lead the sixth-seeded Knights (24-7) past the 11th-seeded Eagles (17-9).
It took less than a minute for Terra Ceia to run into its first obstacle as the Knights lost star point guard Hendrik Van Dorp to an ankle injury at the 7:16 mark.
However, Terra Ceia regrouped and got solid play from Greg Van Essendelft, who took over Van Dorp’s duties.
The Knights answered Klaasan’s challenge and took command of the game early and never looked back as they took a 25-13 lead after the first quarter on the strength of up-tempo basketball.
Klaasan said the fast start and pace was critical to the team’s success.
After taking a 56-40 lead into the fourth quarter, the Knights dropped their guard a bit on defense, allowing the Eagles to make a run.
A Joe Terry (23 points) hoop cut the Knights lead 66-57 with four minute left to play. Parker made sure that would be as close as it got as he went off for 18 fourth quarter points to squash Cresset’s rally.
Next up for the Knights will be the winner of the Greenfield-Ridgecroft game, which Terra Ceia will play Thursday at Cary Academy.
Cresset 8 19 9 14 — 50
Terra Ceia 13 18 19 14 — 64
Eagles (50)
Sarah Dalmus 15, Danielle Devlin 18, Parson 5, Weber 7, Gordon 2, Frederick 1.
Knights (64)
Mariah Van Essendelft 12, Jordan Cantrell 30, Jessica Vanderweit 12, Jill Van Essendelft 11.
Cresset 13 13 14 14 — 62
Terra Ceia 25 18 11 25 — 81
Eagles (62)
Andre Perez 17, Joseph Terry 23, Joe Wagner 12, Estapan 2, Winston 2, Guidry 2.
Knights (81)
Mychal Parker 44, Hunter Davenport 13, Bradley Van Staalduinen 18, Woolard 5, Van Essendelft 3.