Screeching Eagles off and winning
In the opening game of its 2012-13 season, Mt. Assisi faced Evergreen Park and found itself on the wrong side of an eight-point decision.
The Screeching Eagles ushered in their 2013-14 campaign last Monday against the same foe and found themselves involved in another close contest. There was one difference: This time, a combination of experienced talent and grace under pressure was on display for Mt. Assisi, which resulted in a 52-42 victory over the Lady Mustangs.
One night later, the Eagles triumphed again, this time by a decisive margin over Josephinum, which was subdued 54-24.
It’s a noticeable difference for a Mt. Assisi team that won just three regular-season games a year ago before coming alive in the postseason and capturing the school’s first regional championship in basketball.
“I couldn’t have been any happier with our effort,” Eagles coach Kelsey James said. “We usually start with [Evergreen]. Last year, we lost to them, and the [52-44] score was very similar; this year, it’s the opposite.
“This is probably the calmest I’ve ever seen the girls, which is was surprising. Yet, having the same girls now for the past three years, we’ve been stressing that it’s a long game and you can’t give up when things go wrong — you keep working. I think the first game proves that they’re really starting to see that no matter what happens, they have to keep working until the game is over.”
To be sure, conquering the Lady Mustangs required Mt. Assisi to keep working.
The Eagles were behind 17-8 early in the contest before a 5-0 run pulled them closer. Evergreen then stretched its edge back out to nine (22-13), only to see Mt. Assisi respond with another 7-0 spurt.
A pair of free throws and 3-point basket gave the Lady Mustangs an immediate lift at the start of the third quarter, but the boost was only temporary. A layup by Kathleen Murphy began the Eagles’ game-turning surge.
Mary Kate Wetzel hit another layup before Murphy drilled a 3 to make it 32-31. With 3:19 remaining in the third period, Terri Dearth converted a three-point play, putting Mt. Assisi ahead to stay.
Junior transfer Jess Moriarty tied Wetzel for team scoring honors with 15 points. The latter also grabbed 10 rebounds, while Dearth (12 points, five rebounds) and Murphy (six points) were other Eagles notables.
“Jess had a great game and she was very happy,” James said. “She has that ability to put points up quickly, and that’s exactly what we needed. Once she starts knocking down shots, teams are going to be focusing on her more — and that’s going to open up so many opportunities for other players.
“Other players on this team can score as well. We saw that in the first game alone. They were trying to keep Jess from touching the ball, and when that happens, we got some quick baskets because of it.”
In the win over Josephinum last Tuesday, Moriarty (16 points) and Wetzel (11 points) powered Mt. Assisi. However, the Eagles’ 30-point lead was a little deceiving because of their helter-skelter first half, which represented a startling contrast from Mt. Assisi’s composed opening-night victory.
“We started with the mind-set that it was going to be an easy game,” James said. “We were sloppy, not taking care of the ball and not doing what we needed to be doing. By the second half, the girls realized that we had to keep playing. No matter what team we’re playing, we had to play our game.
“I think we got better as the game went on. We were very composed and together on Monday, and we were throwing the ball all over the place in the first half on Tuesday.”
When Mt. Assisi does excel, James is grateful that she has many girls who are capable of making an impact, especially Wetzel.
“She’s so important to us on the floor because she does all those little things,” James said. “Sometimes the stats don’t give her enough credit.”
And as the Eagles prepared to play four games this week in their own Thanksgiving tournament, James was hoping her athletes could build on the success of opening week.
“I hope it continues and that the girls don’t settle,” she said, “They have the potential to be a good team down the road, so they need to keep it going.”
The Lady Chargers opened their season by splitting two games at the Hinsdale South Tip-Off Tourney. Stagg lost 40-37 to Joliet West on Thursday and then defeated St. Ignatius 57-56 on Saturday.
Casey McMahon (11 points) and Hannah Henderson (10) were the leading scorers for the Lady Chargers versus the Lady Tigers. Just two of Stagg’s first 16 field-goal attempts — and one free throw — found the bottom of the net, yet the Lady Chargers only trailed by a deuce at the end of one quarter. Junior Mia DiGiacomo (eight points) did all of the locals’ first-period scoring.
“We came out of the gates shooting against Joliet West, but unfortunately not very well,” Stagg coach Bill Turner said. “Both Mia and Megan Hearne got into some early foul trouble, and we had to adjust our defense and style of play.”
McMahon got things going in the second stanza by hitting two long 3 pointers. Henderson added a couple of buckets in the quarter, but after a back-and-forth battle, the Lady Tigers were up 21-18 at halftime.
The differential was still three points — 29-26 — entering the final frame, but a pair of driving layups from Henderson, McMahon’s 3-pointer and Kate Adams’ basket inched the Lady Chargers in front for the first time. Noor Elmosa’s free throw broke a tie with 1:38 left, but Joliet had the last say by sinking a basket and two foul shots, the latter coming with just 7.3 seconds remaining.
McMahon’s potential game-tying 3-pointer bounced off the rim. Stagg finished 14-of-47 from the floor and misfired a total of six times at the line in 10 chances.
“We had many opportunities throughout the game, but were plagued by poor shooting,” Turner said. “Defensively, we played pretty well, and that will keep us in a lot of games throughout the year.
“We are playing a little shorthanded, with a couple of players nursing injuries. Hopefully, they will be back soon.”
On Saturday, DiGiacomo’s basket with 1.8 seconds remaining lifted the Lady Chargers to their victory over St. Ignatius. McMahon paced Stagg with 14 points, which included a trio of 3s. Henderson tacked on 11 points and DiGiacomo scored nine.
Contributions from Alex Abed (nine points), McMahon, DiGiacomo (two buckets) and Adams (four free throws) helped the Lady Chargers bust out to a 22-10 advantage in the first eight minutes.
“What a difference a day makes,” Turner said. “We came out firing on all cylinders against the [Lady] Wolfpack and built a nice first-quarter lead.”
St. Ignatius cut into Stagg’s 32-25 halftime edge during the third period, using some strong rebounding and foul shooting to do so. The margin eventually got reduced to a single point, but the Lady Chargers maintained control and extended their lead back out to seven with under a minute remaining in the contest.
However, the Lady Wolfpack refused to wilt. Instead, they got McMahon to foul out, then combined three baskets with the same number of Stagg turnovers to move in front for the first time at 56-55 with 23 ticks left.
That score held until the 1.8-second mark, when DiGiacomo received a lob pass from Adams and buried the winning shot for the Lady Chargers. St. Ignatius’ ensuing desperation pass was swiped by Henderson.
“That was great execution on the baseline inbounds play, and the team was able to persevere despite surrendering the lead in the last minute,” Turner said. “We had some balanced scoring and played a sound game until the final minute.”
The Lady Bulldogs opened their season up with a 52-33 victory over Curie last Wednesday at the Bobby Bolton Classic, dropped a 66-26 decision to Lincoln-Way East on Friday and then finished their tournament stay with a 49-36 triumph over Eisenhower on Saturday.
Sydni Tears (24 points, 12 rebounds), Taylor Sonichsen (15 points, three steals), Shannon Meegan (four points, two rebounds), Brianna Kuchenny (five rebounds), Andy Sonichsen (five rebounds) and Anita Robinson (two points, seven rebounds) all lent a hand in Richards’ conquest of the Lady Condors. The Lady Bulldogs were up 13-10 after the first quarter, 26-17 at halftime and 42-22 at the end of three periods.
“The girls came out a little nervous at first, but settled down and played well,” Richards coach Jeff Kortz said.
Tears (15 points, 11 rebounds), Sonichsen (four points) and Kuchenny (three points, three rebounds) were the bright spots for the Lady Bulldogs in their loss to Lincoln-Way East.
“The [Lady] Griffins came out smoking and shooting the ball,” Kortz said. “They are a very good team and coached extremely well. They shot the ball well from behind the arc and played very aggressive.
“We never really got comfortable. They take you out of a lot of things you try to do.”
Tears registered her third consecutive double-double with 19 points and 17 rebounds, and that production was a major ingredient in Richards’ victory over the Lady Cardinals that netted it third place in the tourney. Kuchenny (eight points, seven rebounds), Carly Stazak (seven points, five rebounds), Andy Sonichsen (six points, four rebounds) and Taylor Sonichsen (three points, five assists) all contributed for the Lady Bulldogs.
“We are very proud of our first week of games,” Kortz said. “We finished off a weekend by capturing the third-place trophy. I thought [our girls] played hard.
“We will get back in the gym and work on some things and continue to get better, day-by-day and in the coming weeks.”
The Lady Spartans began their season by knocking off Queen of Peace (63-13) last Tuesday and Glenbard West (59-33) on Saturday at the Glenbard East Tournament.
Brooke Annerino scored 14 points to steer host Oak Lawn past the Pride. Also contributing for the Lady Spartans were Jannah Mahmoud (11 points, eight rebounds), LaTondra Brooks (10 points, 12 steals, seven assists) and Brianne Markusic (10 points). Jelyn Chua and Christine Manika each scored six points for Peace.
Mahmoud poured in 18 points to lead Oak Lawn to its win over Glenbard. Brooks added 13 points and seven steals for the Lady Spartans.
The Lady Knights ushered in their 2013-14 campaign with a 48-43 victory over neighborhood rival Shepard last Tuesday, but then dropped a 102-51 verdict to Lincoln-Way Central at the latter’s own tournament on Saturday.
Kaycee Pittman scored 13 points, Emily Lemmenes tallied 11, and Anna Persenaire chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds for Chicago Christian versus the Lady Astros. Dae Jae Williams (12 points), Abby Newsome (seven) and Courtney Dalton (10 rebounds) were Shepard’s top performers.
Persenaire paced the Lady Knights with 12 points and 10 rebounds opposite their namesakes from Lincoln-Way.
Besides the loss to Chicago Christian, the Lady Astros dropped two other games last week, although they did break through against Bremen in the Beecher Tournament on Saturday for their initial victory of the season.
Keying that 61-38 romp over the Lady Braves were Myrissha Mitchell and Williams, who tossed in 16 and 10 points, respectively. Mitchell (10 points) and Williams (seven) were ringleaders again in another Saturday clash with Coal City, but that game ended in a 46-29 defeat
Dalton had 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds in Shepard’s 41-39 loss to Beecher on Friday. Mitchell added eight points.
The Lady Mustangs posted a 2-1 record at the Argo Tournament. They defeated Guerin 60-44 last Tuesday and Universal 75-42 on Wednesday before suffering a 51-19 setback to the host school on Thursday.
Megan Pfister tossed in 23 points to pace Evergreen Park against the Lady Gators. Nicole Larkin had 21 points and Erica Carradine scored 14 to power the Lady Mustangs (2-2) past Universal.
The Mighty Macs improved to 2-1 with a pair of victories at the Hoffman Estates Tournament, where they topped Harlan 65-50 on Thursday and the host team 73-44 on Saturday.
Elizabeth Nye totaled 28 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead Mother McAuley past Harlan, while Molly O’Malley added 12 points and five rebounds. Against Hoffman Estates, Nye’s 23 points and six assists topped the Macs’ production.
The Lady Eagles won their first two games at the Hinsdale South Tournament to open the season.
Sandburg beat Reavis 53-35 on Friday behind the duo of Sam Youngwirth (15 points) and Victoria Stavropoulos (10). The Lady Eagles then downed Hinsdale Central 61-52 on Saturday as Youngwirth (23 points), Julia Ruzevich (14) and Stavropoulos (13) all played starring roles.
QUEEN OF PEACE
At last weekend’s Lyons Township Tournament, the Pride fell short against both the host school (62-24) and Gordon Tech (44-29).
Chua led Peace against the Lady Lions with 10 points before netting 11 more in the Pride’s contest versus the Lady Rams.