Fohey delivers perfect Father’s Day gift by joining her dad as all-star basketball game MVPs


Illinois MVP Taylor Fohey, left, shares a laugh with her high school coach, Quincy's Brad Dance, during the fourth quarter of Saturday's third annual Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College's Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Like father, like daughter.

Taylor Fohey scored 25 points and grabbed 19 rebounds Saturday afternoon to power the Illinois girls to a 78-43 victory over Missouri in the third annual Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center.

Dominating inside on both ends of the floor, the 6-foot Quincy High School product scored 18 of those points in the first half when Illinois used a 19-0 run overlapping the first and second quarters to turn a two-point deficit into a commanding 44-21 halftime lead en route to its third consecutive win in the series.

The McKendree-bound forward made 12 of 17 shots, snared as many offensive rebounds (9) as the entire Missouri team and dished out three assists to earn her team’s Most Valuable Player award.

Until Saturday, her father, Dax, was the only one in the family who could boast of such an honor. A Palmyra standout, he was voted the Most Outstanding Player for Missouri in the 1991 McDonald’s/Herald-Whig Classic, when he scored 16 points and snared nine rebounds in a losing effort.

Taylor Fohey knew her father had been a high school all-star since “he still likes to show off his jersey,” but was unaware he was singled out for his performance.

That won’t stop her from doing a little boasting of her own now, though.

“My junior year I scored more points than he ever did in a game, so I’ve already got bragging rights about that,” she pointed out. “So, (the MVP award is) just one more thing to add to the list.”

Both teams struggled to score in the game’s opening eight minutes.

A 3-pointer by Monroe City’s Mari Gares gave Missouri a 13-11 lead before a free-throw line jumper by Macomb’s Kenadee Allensworth and a transition layup by Unity’s Sophia Shaffer put Illinois ahead 15-13 after one quarter, the last of 10 lead changes.

That’s when Illinois’ advantage in size and quickness took over.

With Fohey unstoppable inside offensively and able to jump-start her team’s transition game by controlling the lane defensively, Illinois scored 15 straight points in three-and-a-half minutes to open the second quarter. The run was culminated by back-to-back 3-pointers by Allison Icenogle of Illini West and Lille Woodworth of West Hancock to push the advantage to 30-15.

“We got five or six great stops and scored one each of those possessions and that kind of separated the game,” Illinois coach Brad Dance said. “Defensively, we got out there and contested their 3-point shots and were able to run the floor and make some shots.”

Two free throws by Highland’s Ali Reed with 6:07 left in the period ended Missouri’s scoring drought but not its struggles. It made just 2 of 17 field-goal attempts in the quarter and missed all seven 3-point tries after sinking three in the opening period.

Meanwhile, Fohey, Woodworth and Shaffer combined to score Illinois’ final 14 points to build a comfortable halftime cushion. Illinois made 12 of 21 shots in the quarter, including 4 of 8 tries from 3-point range.

“I think we settled in and got more comfortable with each other, and started trusting each other and playing off each other,” Fohey said of the second-quarter outburst. “Most of us have played together (on travel teams) since sixth grade.”

Illinois guard Lillie Woodworth, right, sizes up a shot during the first quarter of Saturday’s third annual Muddy River Showcase at John Wood Community College’s Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

“We got a lot of good shots, got the momentum going and it gave us a lot of energy,” said Woodworth, a Lincoln Land Community College signee who was named a Class 2A special mention all-stater by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association after leading West Hancock to a 23-win season.

Missouri’s offensive struggles continued in the second half. It made just 8 of 28 field-goal attempts, went 1 of 8 from 3-point range and managed only 22 points.

Unable to effectively penetrate Illinois’ interior defense and finding roadblocks when it did, Missouri shot 26 percent from the field overall and made only 4 of 20 3-point tries — the latter an area it knew it needed to shine to remain competitive.

“After the first quarter, we forced some shots, got tired and they got easy transition baskets because we weren’t getting back on defense,” said Reed, who was voted Missouri’s MVP for her eight-point, seven-rebound effort. “We drew up a few plays (at halftime) and we didn’t really execute them like we should have.”

Guard Kamryn Mitchell of South Shelby led Missouri with nine points.

Dance called Woodworth “relentless” on both ends of the floor after she finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, six steals and three assists. Shaffer (13 points) and QHS guard Leila Dade (10) also scored in double figures for Illinois, which dominated most statistical categories.

The winners held a 59-35 rebounding edge, with 25 of those coming on the offensive end. They also had a 34-8 advantage on points in the paint and 27-10 on second-chance points while turning 17 Missouri turnovers into 20 points.

“We wanted to make sure that everybody had opportunities, and it was fun to watch them, you know, continue to work with each other and get the ball where it needed to be,” Dance said.

That often was in the hands of Fohey, one of just one of four players in Quincy High School history with more than 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.

“It was nice that she knocked down a couple mid-range shots and then she got to the rim,” Dance said. “I mean, she’s hard to stop right there.”

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