Arnsman’d and dangerous: Illinois girls pull away in third quarter to win Muddy River Showcase


South Shelby's Milli Mozee-Williams, left, tries to deny Unity's Ashlynn Arnsman a look at the basket during Saturday's Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College's Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — It became obvious to the Illinois all-stars during their preparation for the Muddy River Showcase that Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball coach Eric Orne was taking this as seriously as anyone..

“Coach Orne made it really intense,” Unity’s Ashlynn Arnsman said. “It felt like a real regular-season game.”

The Missouri all-stars realized how real that was at the start of the second half.

Trailing by eight points at halftime of Saturday’s game at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center, the Show-Me Staters were hit with a defensive switch in the third quarter as the Land of Lincolners went to a 1-3-1 zone defense. 

It resulted in a 30-10 spurt that gave Illinois ultimate control in its 87-48 victory.

“It kind of threw us off,” South Shelby’s Miranda Patterson said. “And they started playing Illinois basketball and getting up and down the floor. I don’t think we were ready for that.”

The Land of Lincoln’s length took a toll, too.

Arnsman, the 6-foot forward headed to Quincy University, established herself on the block in the first half, scoring 13 of her game-high 22 points. She scored the other nine in the third quarter, including showing her range as she stepped out and hit a 3-pointer.

In fact, six different Illinois players scored in the third-quarter barrage with three hitting 3-pointers.

“We were all playing well together, and we were all having fun,” said Arnsman, named the Illinois squad’s most valuable player.

That led to sharing the ball efficiently with 20 assists on 33 field goals.

“We’re all really close and we were all cheering each other on,” QND guard Blair Eftink said. “We got excited for each other and shared the ball really well.”

Eftink took advantage of that and a hot streak in the second half to drain three consecutive 3-pointers. She finished with five treys overall and 19 points, one of four Illinois players in double figures. QND product Abbey Schreacke had 18 points and Brown County’s Katey Flynn had 12.

“We’re all really tall and long and athletic,” Schreacke said. “That helps. But we also have that natural communication with each other. No hard feelings for anything. We just have that connection and made it work.”

Even so, Missouri hung in there by fighting for rebounds and scoring inside. South Shelby’s Milli Mozee-Williams and North Shelby’s Ava Williams each had four points in the second quarter as the Show-Me Staters stayed within 35-27 at halftime.

“All the different personalities we had made this fun,” said Canton’s Nariah Clay, who had 10 points. “Win or lose, it didn’t matter. We all wanted to come out here and play and get after it and enjoy the moment. We did that. I thought we played hard, too.”

One tough stretch made it difficult.

“That third quarter wasn’t so much fun,” said Patterson, who was named the Missouri MVP with 13 points.

In the end, the experience was as memorable as anything.

“It’s always fun to go out and play with the people you’re rivals with all season,” Clay said. “We don’t really play Illinois teams, so getting out there and playing against the best Illinois players shows you’re one of the best, too.”

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