By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
MENDON, Ill. -- Jill Donley didn't let an early miss sink her confidence. When solid ball movement from her Unity teammates put her in good position, Donley buried her second three-point attempt.
Thirty-four seconds later she did it again.
Donley's shooting sparked an offensive surge that helped Unity beat Central-Southeastern 43-29 for its second consecutive Unity Tournament championship Saturday.
"We just try to run our plays and cut, it opens up the outside," Donley said. "I think it helped a lot. It kind of helped us build momentum."
The Lady Mustangs (6-1) outscored the Lady Panthers 13-1 to open the game. C-SE (3-4) rebounded in the second quarter with strong defense and hot shooting of its own. Panthers junior Kara Twaddell, who finished with eight points, had the ball just outside the three-point line when the crowd implored her to shoot.
She let it go and cut the lead to 18-10 with 2:14 left before halftime. On the next possession, Twaddell drained another 3-pointer, this time with no hesitation to slice the lead to 18-13. Maggie Bowles scored with 1:16 left in the half to put Unity ahead 20-13.
C-SE's defense forced nine turnovers in the first half and limited to Unity to 27 percent shooting (3 of 11) in the second quarter.
"I think we were letting them get in our head," Lady Mustangs senior Brooklyn Moore said. "We started to get in a little foul trouble with some of our players. Not finishing and rushing our shots, but we were able to get out of it."
Lady Mustangs coach Brad Begeman said his team relaxed after their hot start.
"We preach about not getting lax, but I think when we started on the big run everyone kind of settled down," Begeman said. "We let them creep back it in. It wasn't maybe so much not rebounding or doing other things, we made some silly unforced turnovers."
After halftime, C-SE struggled to keep a handle on the ball. The Panthers turned the ball over nine times in the quarter as Unity opened up a 35-17 lead.
"Turnovers were the ball game," Panthers coach Matt Long said. "We stressed it to them for three straight days. We had to take care of the basketball. It wasn't just one person, we had several kids on the floor who made mental mistakes with the ball."
Trailing 37-25 with nearly four minutes remaining, Central was forced to the press, which Unity exploited with good ball movement. Moore, who finished with a game-high 13 points and 11 rebounds, cut to the basket and scored on two consecutive possessions on passes from Breanne Begeman.
"We knew they played tight defense and put a lot of pressure on the ball," Moore said. "As long as we did our screens right and rolled we knew we'd be open, so we weren't worried about the press."
Brad Begeman said their chemistry helps them find easy scoring opportunities.
"We could turn the lights off in the gym and those two could still find each other," Begeman said. "They see cuts for those two only. They may not see it for somebody else, because the other one is not going to read the same thing. Their minds are on the same page and they see stuff we don't have designed."
Breanne Begeman and Donley both finished with 10 points for the Lady Mustangs. Madison Steinkamp finished with eight points and seven rebounds for the Panthers.