A week ago the Lady Indians were sitting pretty, having won three of four games. But Du Quoin then faced three of the top teams in the region and came away with only three moral victories.
They head into the next stretch at 10-10 and 2-4 in the conference standings.
"We've ran into a pretty good little gauntlet this past week," said Du Quoin Coach Shawn File. "I still think we can play with anybody and we showed that for a half against Carterville. I'd love to have another shot at them and it would probably be in a sectional final down the line. The goal is to always get a little bit better."
After losses to Nashville (17-3) and Hamilton County (19-3) the Lady Indians went from frying pan to fire when the second ranked team in the state Carterville (20-1) invaded Anders Gymnasium. Despite giving the Lions a competitive game for a half, the Indians lost, 57-30.
"We did a lot of things right," File said. "Our turnovers were down and on offense we did a much better job of finding the post."
The game also saw a major milestone when Megan Barton joined her Carterville teammates Abby Crain and Jeniah Thompson in the 1,000 Point Club.
In the first quarter, the Lady Indians jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but the Lady Lions roared back behind seven points each from Barton and Alecia Doyle combined with a four-minute scoring drought by Du Quoin to take an 18-11 lead after the first quarter.
"We jumped off to a pretty good start with Bailey Harsy hitting a couple of 3s," File said. "We were playing really well with a lot of energy flying around on defense.
"The girls were doing a great job, but there's a reason (the Lions) were 19-1. They can go on those runs. They score so quick you can't hardly call a timeout sometimes to try to slow down their momentum. They do such a good job in transition and one our goals was to eliminate transition points."
Barton duplicated her first quarter production in the second as Carterville outscored Du Quoin 14-7 to take a 32-18 lead at the half. The game got out of hand in the third quarter when Carterville opened with a 13-0 run with Barton scoring eight points to finish her night with a game-high 22 points.
"We didn't want to give them layups and run out 3s and for the first half we did a pretty decent job, but then they came out in the third quarter and went on a big run," File said.
After sophomore Abbi Mocaby broke the run by splitting a pair of free throws, Carterville scored the last six points to take a 32-point lead into the fourth quarter.
"We felt pretty good at halftime, but then went from a dozen point ballgame to all of a sudden the clock's running," File said. "You can't play a quarter or half against that ballclub ... you have to play a complete game."
Du Quoin closed out the game outscoring Carterville 11-6 in the fourth quarter, with a 3-pointer by freshman Ella Davis, a 3-pointer by sophomore Grace Alongi and a three-point play by Harsy on a basket and a free throw.
The senior Harsy led Du Quoin with 11 points followed by Davis' five points, junior Delaynie Dearmond with four points and three points each from sophomore Lauren Heape, Alongi and freshman Loveleen Dunklin. Mocaby finished with one point.
The tough stretch isn't over with Benton (14-8, 6-1 Ohio Division), the second place team on the other side of the conference, coming to Anders Gym Thursday night.
"They gave us a first-round loss in the Christmas Tournament at their place, so I'm looking for another opportunity to get them at our place," File said. "We're a little bit better than we were then, so hopefully it will be painful for them."
On Saturday, the Lady Indians and the boys team will play a doubleheader at Trico. The girls begin at 4:30 p.m. followed by the boys.
"We've done this for several years, but the last two years Mother Nature did not cooperate with some snow getting it canceled," File said. "It's one of my favorite nights of the year because you get the big experience. By the time the girls game is coming to a conclusion you got a full house with the boys getting ready to play. With two schools pretty close to each other makes it a pretty fun night."