Lady Spartans perfect through five
Oak Lawn coach Janet Meyers can confidently say that the members of her Lady Spartans team truly enjoying playing basketball with one another.
And through the first five games of the 2013-14 season, her athletes are also winning.
That certainly was true at last week’s Glenbard East Tournament, where Oak Lawn captured a championship by triumphing four times in a row. The Lady Spartans edged Downers Grove North 60-58 in the title contest last Wednesday, one day after they slipped past Glenbard South 55-52 in the semifinal round.
Oak Lawn’s Brianna Markusic was named the tournament MVP, while LaTondra Brooks and Jannah Mahmoud joined her on the all-tourney team. By sweeping their tournament contests, the Lady Spartans are off to their best start to a season under Meyers.
“The girls are playing good ball,” she said. “We’ve beaten some good teams. Our opponents have gotten more competitive, so it’s great to see my girls step up to the challenge and succeed.
“Brianna really came up big for us. She played well in fourth-quarter pressure situations, pulling down rebounds and putting herself into positions to score. LaTondra and Jannah not only played great, but they both did an excellent job getting Brianna the ball.
“In every game, we seem to have someone new stepping up for us. A lot of these girls have been together for several seasons, and they’re excited about the season, playing with each other and winning. This is a fun team to coach and to watch.”
Oak Lawn opened tournament play with a 59-33 victory over Glenbard West. The Lady Spartans jumped out to a 20-3 lead in the opening period and never looked back, as Mahmoud scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in that quarter.
Oak Lawn continued to build on its lead in the second stanza, except this time Brooks led the way with nine points. By the end of the third quarter, the score was 53-20 in the Lady Spartans’ favor.
In addition to their points, Mahmoud snared six rebounds, while Brooks tacked on six steals and four assists. Also chipping in were Brooke Annerino (eight points, five steals) and Kelsey Luckett (five steals).
In its next game, Oak Lawn prevailed 59-40 over Glenbard East. However, the victory did not come without a bit of struggle.
The Lady Spartans, in fact, trailed 16-15 after one period, their initial first-quarter deficit of the young season. But after making some adjustments, Oak Lawn surged ahead and held a 30-26 halftime edge and then used a 13-4 surge in the third frame to seize control.
Mahmoud had another solid performance for the Lady Spartans as she notched a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Brooks backed her with 14 points, seven rebounds seven steals and six assists, Markusic finished with nine points and six rebounds, and Annerino tallied eight points.
In order to beat Glenbard South, Oak Lawn had to overcome a team that boasted a 6-foot-4 center. It was when that center encountered foul trouble in the second quarter that the Lady Spartans began to make their move, which translated into a 32-21 halftime lead.
Glenbard South bounced back in the third period by outscoring Oak Lawn 13-5, which reduced the deficit to three points at the break. The Lady Spartans’ advantage had been built up to 53-43 with 2:10 to go on Markusic’s basket off a Brooks feed when Glenbard South made one final lunge.
The differential was just four with 50 seconds left, but Annerino’s pass to Markusic resulted in another bucket and that was enough to extinguish Glenbard’s last threat.
Markusic netted 13 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth frame, which were all but two of the points Oak Lawn garnered in the last eight minutes. She also had nine rebounds in the contest. Annerino scored 10 points and was a perfect 6-of-6 at the free-throw line, while Brooks finished with nine points, six assists and four steals.
This was the first game in which the Lady Spartans encountered foul trouble. Brooks fouled out, and both Markusic and Mahmoud played with four.
“It was nice to see Brianna step up when we needed her to,” Meyers said. “She was solid under pressure in the fourth quarter. We also got some quality minutes from Dee Dee Shatat (six points), Alyssa Radoicic (four points) and sophomore Kellie O’Connor when the starters got in foul trouble.
“That game was our biggest challenge of the season so far.”
The championship-game clash with Downers Grove North was another tense affair. The Lady Trojans opened the game with a 3-point basket and extended the lead to 4-0 before Oak Lawn got into any sort of offensive flow.
Brooks scored on a driving layup and Shatat hit the first of her two 3-point baskets to put Oak Lawn up 5-4. Brooks extended the lead to 7-4 with a steal and a layup on the next possession, and the Lady Spartans held an 18-13 lead at the period’s end.
Downers Grove North outscored Oak Lawn 16-12 in the second quarter and trailed by just one at intermission. The Lady Spartans’ lead stood at only four points through three stanzas and never grew past seven.
“We got careless with the ball and made some turnovers that we were not making early in the game,” Meyers said. “Downers Grove then capitalized on those turnovers.”
However, Markusic once again stepped up big in the fourth quarter by scoring 12 of Oak Lawn’s 14 points. After the Lady Trojans cut their deficit to 57-56 with 1:04 to go, Markusic received a pass from Shatat, drew a foul and made one free throw.
Then after Downers Grove North pulled even at 58, Brooks drove and dished off to Markusic, who scored the game-winning basket with 19.3 seconds remaining.
The Lady Trojans missed a 3-point attempt on their ensuing possession and could not get off another shot before time expired.
Markusic scored 24 of her game-high 26 points in the second half. She also pulled down 16 rebounds. Mahmoud (13 points, 14 rebounds), Brooks (10 points, seven assists, five steals) and Shatat (six points) also positively impacted the Lady Spartans.
Oak Lawn opens up its South Suburban Conference schedule tonight with a crossover game against TF North at home.
The Lady Chargers split a pair of games at last week’s Hinsdale South Tip-Off Tournament, falling short of Hinsdale South (62-51) on Friday before defeating Plainfield South (43-32) on Saturday.
The Hinsdale game stayed close until the Lady Hornets stretched their lead out in the fourth quarter. Stagg never got any closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Both teams were solid in the opening period, which ended with Hinsdale in front by four, 17-13. Better dribble penetration and a combined 8-of-10 display at the foul line by Hannah Henderson and Alex Abed then enabled the Lady Chargers to climb within 27-24 at intermission.
Junior forward Mia DiGiacomo (team-high 14 points) had Stagg’s only field goal of the second quarter.
“Mia is playing well for us in the post, improving and gaining more confidence with each game,” Lady Chargers coach Bill Turner said.
Abed (12 points) made two 3-point baskets for Stagg in the third frame, and Henderson (13 points) dropped in a bucket and a couple of free throws to keep the game close (43-37) entering the final period.
The Lady Chargers had some difficultly stopping one player, Hinsdale’s Gabrielle Rush (24 points), who knocked in six long-distance shots. The last of those opened the fourth quarter and put Stagg on its heels.
The Lady Chargers also lost the rebounding battle and were hurt several times on offensive putbacks by the Lady Hornets.
“We need to shore up our interior defense a little bit and limit teams to one shot,” Turner said. “On the offensive end, we have to improve our team free-throw shooting percentage and our perimeter shooting as well.”
Stagg shot just 4-of-20 from 3-point territory.
“We are getting double-digit scoring from several players, and I thought we had a good effort and competed for 32 minutes against a very good team,” Turner said. “We are going to get to work and make a couple of adjustments when we get back to practice.”
In their final game of the tourney the Lady Chargers came away with a convincing win over the Plainfield South. Stagg limited the Lady Cougars to single-digit scoring in all four quarters.
“This was our best defensive effort of the season, and it was a total team effort,” Turner said. “All available players played in the contest and we led the game from beginning to end.”
After opening up an 11-9 first-quarter edge, the Lady Chargers extended it to 25-18 by halftime. Casey McMahon led Stagg’s offense with 13 points, but Abed added eight and six other Stagg players also reached the scoring column.
“We took care of business on the backboards against a taller team and were rewarded with second-chance points and 24 trips to the foul line,” Turner said. “I thought our defensive pressure caused a lot of problems for them, resulting in 30 turnovers.”
Stagg’s lead was extended to 34-24 by the end of the third quarter and grew to as many as 16 points in the final period.
“Even though we did not shoot the ball real well again, defending and rebounding can carry you on those rough shooting nights,” said Turner, whose team weathered a 24 percent showing from the field. “Consistency in those [other two] areas will be the key to our success throughout the season, but especially in the next few games.”
Mother McAuley, Andrew, Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln-Way East await the Lady Chargers (2-2) in upcoming tilts.
The Lady RedHawks started their Thanksgiving Classic on a bad note by dropping a 68-61 decision to Rich Central last Tuesday.
Marist rebounded over the rest of the week, however, and won its final three games to capture the tournament title. The Lady RedHawks earned the crown with a 55-49 triumph over Crete-Monee on Friday.
Marist started its comeback with a hard-fought 67-63 win over Oak Park-River Forest. Daniela Boricich broke a 63-all tie with the Lady Huskies at the 34.2-second mark by hitting both ends of a 1-and-1, then Tehya Fortune cashed in on another pair of charity tosses with 16.5 seconds left to lock it up.
Fortune finished with a team-high 12 points, while Brooke Wyderski (12 rebounds), Madison Naujokas (11 points) and Skylar Patterson (11) also performed well for the Lady RedHawks.
In the championship matchup with the Lady Warriors, Wyderski’s double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds led the way for Marist (4-1). Fortune added 11 points, while Patterson chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.
The Lady RedHawks were declared the tourney champion because of this head-to-head victory over Crete, which also went 3-1 last week.
The Mighty Macs split a pair of games last week. Morgan Park doled out a 58-47 setback on Tuesday, but Mother McAuley rebounded with a 51-47 triumph over Maine West at the Hoffman Estates Tournament on Friday.
Elizabeth Nye was a dominant figure for the Macs (3-2) versus the Lady Mustangs as she tossed in 28 points. Raven Willis added six, Amy Balich had five points and seven rebounds, and Claire Mueller totaled five points and six rebounds.
McAuley entered the game without Shea O’Malley (ankle), Lauren Carlson (back) and Molly O’Malley (illness). The Macs also lost guard Molly McGinty to an ankle injury midway through the first period.
Nye (18 points, eight assists), and Erin Drynan (17 points, 11 rebounds) were McAuley’s ringleaders against Maine West.
The Lady Astros were defeated twice last week at the Beecher Tournament, as they dropped verdicts to Peotone (50-31) and Tinley Park (45-41) on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
Dae Jae Williams had 21 points and eight rebounds for Shepard (1-5) in the third-place contest versus the Lady Titans after scoring nine against the Lady Blue Devils.
The Lady Knights lost a pair of games at last week’s Lincoln-Way Central Tournament as they came up short against both Lincoln-Way West (55-35) and Plainfield North (67-56).
Anna Persenaire posted a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago Christian (1-3) in the latter contest.
The Lady Eagles gained a split at the Hinsdale South Tournament last week.
Sandburg downed Plainfield South 61-30 behind 17 points from Sam Youngwirth and 12 by Erin Cronin. Youngwirth stood tall again on Saturday, but her 16 points weren’t enough to prevent the Lady Eagles (3-1) from suffering a tough 58-55 loss to Hinsdale Central on Saturday.
Host Riverside-Brookfield nosed out the Screeching Eagles 56-55 in Thanksgiving tournament play last Monday. Mary Kate Wetzel was Mt. Assisi’s top gun with a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles entered the current week with a 2-1 ledger.
QUEEN OF PEACE
Downers Grove South nipped the Pride 39-38 last Tuesday in the Lyons Township Tournament. That Queen of Peace loss was followed up by another, 46-24 versus Oak Forest on Friday.
Nicole Carli notched 11 points and Maggie Bennett added eight for the Pride (0-4) against the Lady Mustangs.
Jonie Nard’s basket with 10 seconds remaining lifted the Lady Mustangs to a thrilling 39-38 victory over Elmwood Park at the Immaculate Conception Tournament on Friday.
Zoe Monks led Evergreen Park (4-4) with 17 points, while Nicole Larkin scored 10 and Nard finished with eight.