Lady Mustangs rounding into shape behind Pfister
Evergreen Park’s success on the basketball court last week, perhaps not surprisingly, coincided with junior guard Megan Pfister becoming healthy enough to be a steady contributor on offense for the Lady Mustangs.
Pfister averaged 15.3 points a game in Evergreen’s three games: a 57-35 win over Queen of Peace on Monday, a 45-44 setback against TF North on Tuesday and a thrilling 54-52 overtime victory over Tinley Park on Thursday.
Pfister scored 15 points versus both the Pride and Lady Meteors, then dropped in 16 against the Lady Titans. That latter total included the game-winning bucket with 20 seconds remaining.
The 2-1 week improved the Lady Mustangs’ season mark to 7-6.
“Megan’s been coming around for us, and it’s nice,” Evergreen coach Bruce Scaduto said. “She’s been injured a little bit, but she’s starting to be consistent. She’s scored at least 15 in the past few games.
“The kids feel a little more confident having Megan back on the floor. She is our glue that keeps us together. We’re also getting more confidence in Nicole Larkin in the post.
“I think the girls [as a group] are getting a little better overall.”
The Lady Mustangs jumped out to an early lead against Peace and dominated from there. Most of Evergreen’s starters were relieved right before halftime.
“The kids started to play well offensively on Monday,” Scaduto said. “We eventually got the whole team to play, so it was good to see everyone in the game and to see what they all could do. Some have not gotten a lot of playing time.
“The starters took care of business. Megan can score going to the basket and from the outside, while Zoe Monks is more of an outside shooter. But a couple of good shooters can take the pressure off each other.”
Monks had 10 points opposite TF North in a South Suburban Conference crossover game, which the Lady Mustangs led 13-10 after one quarter and by a point at intermission. The Lady Meteors rallied in the third period to establish a 38-33 edge for themselves, but Evergreen was not going to succumb without a battle.
The Lady Mustangs, in fact, had a couple opportunities to perhaps pull out a victory down the stretch, but came up short. Nevertheless, Scaduto liked what he saw from his athletes.
“We held our own against TF North and started out hitting some shots,” he said. “After they came back, it was pretty much a fight until the end. We could have won if we had played better defense. It was hard watching the team defensively because we would score and then give up points.
“We had our chances at the end, but we didn’t execute. We had some decent shots down low that could have fallen, but it just didn’t happen for us.”
Larkin backed Pfister with 13 points on Thursday, which enabled the Lady Mustangs to climb above the .500 mark for both the week and season. The win over Tinley was Evergreen’s first in league action.
It didn’t come easily, though, as the Lady Mustangs had to claw their way back from an 18-11 first-quarter deficit. Evergreen erupted for 21 second-period points, which lifted it into a 32-25 halftime lead.
From there, it was a back-and-forth affair until the end of regulation, which necessitated an extra period.
“We kind of talked about our defense in our one practice and concentrated on that,” Scaduto said. “We just kind of worked at what we needed to get better at. We had a good defensive day against Tinley Park.
“We started a little slow, but being at home I think we turned it up a little bit. Nicole Larkin hit a big 3-point shot to start overtime [and] we played solid.
“After Megan hit her big 3 [near the conclusion of OT], we just defended well. Then we got the ball back and we were able to secure it until the end of the game.”
Ahead for the Lady Mustangs is a Friday contest against Lemont and then a matchup with Bremen next Monday in the opening game of the Chicago Agricultural Science Christmas Tournament.
“Lemont is a good team, but we’re getting better each game,” Scaduto said. “Who knows what can happen? We’re definitely looking for a good performance at the Christmas tournament.”
The Lady Spartans remained undefeated after capturing three more wins last week, which ran their record to 10-0.
None of Oak Lawn’s triumphs required it to sweat. The Lady Spartans crushed Tinley Park (66-30) and Lemont (62-23) in a pair of SSC crossover contests on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, then administered a similar beating De La Salle (64-39) in a nonconference tilt on Saturday.
LaTondra Brooks (16 points, seven assists, three steals), Brianna Markusic (17 points, five rebounds), Jannah Mahmoud (11 points, nine rebounds) and Dee Dee Shatat (11 points, four steals) were all pretty much unstoppable for Oak Lawn in its conquest of the Lady Titans, which improved its conference ledger to 3-0. Point guard Brooke Annerino made sure all four players got their hands on the ball early and often, and Alyssa Radoicic further strengthened the team’s inside presence by pulling down nine rebounds.
Another strong first quarter put the Lady Spartans in command, as they outscored Tinley 26-6. Oak Lawn came out of the gate in attack mode, with Brooks twice driving the lane, Markusic adding a layup and Mahmoud scoring on a putback in an 8-0 run.
The Lady Titans drew within 12-6, then watched Shatat hit a pull-up 3 that triggered a closing 14-0 surge. The Lady Spartans were 12-of-17 from the field in the first eight minutes and scored on all but two of their possessions.
“Our game plan was to hold Tinley to one shot and run the ball, and that’s we did in the first quarter,” Oak Lawn coach Janet Meyers said. “We came out with a lot of intensity and shot very well. I think this took Tinley Park out of their rhythm.”
The Lady Titans recovered a little bit in the second stanza, but the Lady Spartans were still in full control and up 37-13 at the half. Oak Lawn came out strong again in the third frame, outscoring Tinley 25-9 and extending its lead to 62-22 at the period stop.
“Overall, I thought we did a great job defensively,” Meyers said. “We held Tinley to single-digit scoring in each quarter.
“I was happy with our overall play. We executed well on offense and stuck to our game plan. We had balanced scoring and did a good job on the boards.”
Mahmoud dropped in 15 points and pulled down 16 rebounds to fuel the rout of Lemont, while Markusic (nine rebounds, four steals), Brooks (six steals, seven rebounds, four steals) and Annerino (four assists) all added 11 points apiece for the Lady Spartans.
The Lady Indians netted the game’s first five points, but then got buried by a 21-4 run that put Oak Lawn in firm control.
“It was our ‘Pink Out’ game and we came out a little too fired up,” Meyers said. “It took us a couple of plays to settle down, and then we went on to outscore Lemont with a balanced attack and all five starters scoring for us.”
Mahmoud tallied eight of her team’s 18 second-quarter points that helped construct a hefty 39-15 halftime advantage. Oak Lawn had a strong third period as well, this time with an offense spearheaded by Markusic and Brooks, and outscored the Lady Indians 14-2.
Meyers said the game was also exciting for the cause it supported.
“We had a huge crowd because it was the ‘Pink Out’ game — the entire stands were wearing pink,” she said. “Our student section, the Spartan Screamers, were really into the game and it was a lot of fun for all those involved.
“It was a very special game to me personally because the funds raised at this game are being donated to my sister, Mary Haubenreiser, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer. It really meant a lot to me to see the school and the community support this event.”
In the win over De La Salle at the Oak Lawn Holiday Tournament, Brooks (18 points, four steals), Mahmoud (10 points, seven rebounds), Shatat (11 points) and Markusic (nine points, 10 rebounds, four steals) led another balanced effort for the Lady Spartans.
Oak Lawn again came out of the gate hot and led 21-0 at one point of the first quarter. The Lady Meteors then ran off nine straight points of their own, but there would be no catching the Lady Spartans.
All five Oak Lawn starters tallied in the opening quarter, with Brooks delivering half of her game-high 18 points during the session. The Lady Spartans extended their edge to 34-17 by halftime and never led by less than 15 in the second half.
The Lady Chargers went 1-1 last week, with the victory coming in a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover matchup with Andrew on Tuesday.
Stagg defeated its District 230 sister school 66-61 in overtime, but then ran afoul of Homewood-Flossmoor in an SWSC Blue encounter. The Lady Vikings prevailed 73-43 last Friday.
Hannah Henderson’s 16 points and four steals paced the visiting Lady Chargers (3-3) versus the Lady Thunderbolts. Stagg also received 15 points and four steals from Casey McMahon, and 11 points from Kate Adams, six of which were supplied on a perfect performance at the charity stripe.
“It wasn’t an easy win, but our captains didn’t commit a turnover the entire game,” Lady Chargers coach Bill Turner said, referring to Henderson and McMahon.
“Hannah sparked us on both ends of the floor and Casey also led the [Lady] Charger[s’] attack. Kate Adams had her best game of the season.”
Stagg began somewhat slowly and found itself in arrears by five (18-13) after eight minutes. But when the Lady Chargers cranked up their defense in the second period and held Andrew to just one field goal, the result was a 24-all halftime deadlock
Another strong defensive effort in the third quarter allowed Stagg to grab a 37-33 lead, but the Lady T’bolts played their way into a fourth-period tie, and then moved ahead with 18 seconds left on a basket and free throw. Prior to that, Andrew had misfired six consecutive times at the foul line during the final minute of regulation.
“The coaching staff decided to let the play go on without calling a timeout,” Turner said.
Junior Alex Abed (six points) was fouled while driving to the basket with 1.6 seconds remaining and the Lady Chargers trailing 50-49. After missing the first free throw, she calmly swished the second one to create a 50-all tie. The Lady T’bolts were unable to get off a shot before the horn sounded.
In OT, 3-pointers from McMahon and sophomore Noor Elmosa gave Stagg a big boost. The Lady Chargers then clinched it at the stripe as they went a perfect 8-of-8 from there, an effort sparked by McMahon’s 6-of-6 display. Henderson provided the other two free throws.
Fifty-eight fouls were whistled in the contest, which translated into 33 free throws for Stagg and 38 for Andrew. The Lady Chargers missed 10, but their foe was no good on twice as many attempts, and the Lady T’bolts also undercut themselves by committing 25 turnovers.
Henderson, Mia DiGiacomo and Megan Hearne all fouled out of the game for Stagg.
“With 71 free throws shot and the extra four minutes of overtime, this was truly a marathon battle,” Turner said. “It was nice to see our sophomores [Adams and Elmosa] step up and make crucial plays when we needed them.”
Against the nationally ranked Lady Vikings, Henderson’s 16 points and five steals were Stagg’s notable individual statistics, but nowhere enough to derail H-F.
The Lady Vikings’ good 3-point shooting and full-court defensive pressure combined to make life miserable for the Lady Chargers (3-4, 0-1) at the outset. H-F was ahead 25-11 in the first quarter and 46-27 at intermission.
DiGiacomo (nine points, four rebounds) gave Stagg another decent offensive weapon, but there was no slowing the Lady Vikings.
“It took us a little too much time to adjust to the speed of the game and get our composure,” Turner said.
But adjust the Lady Chargers eventually did, as they demonstrated some defensive tenacity of their own in the third frame. H-F managed only eight points in the quarter, but never was in danger of losing its hold on the proceedings.
Hearne, DiGiacomo, Sam Owens and Gerda Sliuzaite did their best to try to cope with a taller, more athletic Lady Vikings lineup, and DiGiacomo especially made her presence felt with numerous ball deflections and tips. Those helped cause 19 H-F turnovers, 12 of which came directly off Stagg steals.
However, the Lady Vikings compensated for any execution flaws by posting a massive 44-19 advantage on the glass. The Lady Chargers were also guilty of 29 turnovers and missed 12 free throws.
“I used all nine players available [to me] in the game and was very pleased with our energy and hustle throughout the entire contest,” Turner said. “I give H-F a lot of credit — they have put together a very talented group of players. We actually beat them last year at the Hillcrest tourney, but this team looks nothing like the one we played last season.
“I told our girls that you do not have any control over the opposition [as far as] how talented they are or how athletic they are, but you always have control over two things: your attitude and your effort. I thought the team did a great job in those two areas, and that is all a coach can ever ask for.
“I was very pleased with the way they competed. We will have another opportunity at H-F in conference play again in January.”
The Lady Chargers do not have much time to rest with conference foe Lincoln-Way East visiting this week and a nonconference game at Queen of Peace slated for Saturday. Stagg will then enter the Hillcrest Holiday Classic.
When North Lawndale made five 3-pointers in the first quarter against the Mighty Macs in the ChiTown Showdown at Whitney Young, Mother McAuley needed a big effort to counteract its hot-shooting opponent.
And while it took a while to overcome the deficit, the Macs eventually did. By converting eight free throws in the final 46 seconds, McAuley was able to bag a 59-54 triumph over the Lady Phoenix.
North Lawndale (4-5) was ahead by as many as 10 points (24-14) early in the second quarter, and it wouldn’t be until just 3:31 remained in the third period that the Macs (8-2) finally took the lead, 36-34, compliments of a basket by Raven Williams (10 points).
The edge was short-lived, however, as the Lady Phoenix surged back to take a 47-42 advantage with less than seven minutes to go.
A conventional three-point play by Kate Drynan (eight points, nine rebounds) with 1:34 left gave McAuley a 52-49 lead that it never relinquished. Elizabeth Nye scored 19 points to pace the Macs and Molly O’Malley added 12 points.
The Lady Eagles began last week on the wrong end of a 55-33 SWSC Blue decision against Lincoln Way East on Thursday, but roared back on Saturday with a 48-16 rout of Romeoville at the Oak Lawn Tournament.
Sandburg was still close to the Lady Griffins at halftime, but the latter extended their 26-20 lead by unleashing a full-court press that produced 10 Lady Eagles turnovers in the third period. Lincoln-Way East scored seven unanswered points, then responded to Victoria Stavropolous’ three-point play with an 8-0 blitz that handed it an insurmountable 41-23 edge toward the end of the session.
Stavropolous (nine points) and Sam Youngwirth (10) were Sandburg’s principal figures. The Lady Eagles (6-2) hurt themselves with a total of 20 miscues and a 4-of-22 showing from 3-point land.
Sisters Kate and Julia Ruzevich were Sandburg’s headliners on Saturday, as their combined 21 points keyed the Lady Eagles’ rout of Romeoville.
The Lady Knights went 1-2 in three Suburban Christian Conference Gold contests last week.
Both Wheaton Academy (36-24) and Aurora Christian (45-33) got the better of Chicago Christian, while the locals salvaged the week with a 50-37 win over Marian Central Catholic on Saturday. The latter contest was part of a girls’-boys’ doubleheader in Palos Heights.
Trisha Belgrave scored seven points and Anna Persenaire grabbed 12 rebounds for the Lady Knights (2-7, 1-2) in their road game at Wheaton last Monday. Persenaire then delivered a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds in the win over Marian, while Belgrave added 12 points. Also making her presence felt was Kiersten Merrick, who finished with 13 points.
The Lady Bulldogs came up dry in three outings last week.
Taylor Sonichsen and Carly Stazak both dropped in eight points against Bremen on Tuesday, but the Lady Braves managed to make off with a 50-47 win in an SSC crossover game. Also going for naught was Sydni Tears’ 15-point performance versus TF South on Thursday, as Richards (3-5) fell to a 64-31 defeat in another conference crossover affair.
Back came Stazak (11 points) and Sonichsen (nine) with solid efforts on Saturday, but again the Lady Bulldogs were unable to prosper. Instead, Riverside-Brookfield collected a 51-33 victory in the Oak Lawn Tournament.
Lemont (40-30) and Oak Forest (45-31) both doled out SSC losses to the Lady Astros last week, which dropped the latter’s record to 0-3 in league action and 2-8 overall.
Abby Newsome’s 10 points led Shepard against the Lady Indians, while Alyysa Dechene’s six points topped Lady Astros scorers versus the Lady Bengals.
QUEEN OF PEACE
Ciarra Juggan’s 10 points represented the Pride’s best offensive effort in their loss to Evergreen.
Queen of Peace (0-11, 0-3) also tumbled in a pair of Girls Catholic Athletic Conference encounters last week: 56-20 to St. Ignatius on Tuesday and 71-15 to Trinity on Thursday.
MaryKate Wetzel totaled 21 points and 11 rebounds to power the visiting Screeching Eagles past Bremen, 50-30, last Monday. Terri Dearth tacked on 11 points for Mt. Assisi (5-6).
The Lady RedHawks dropped a double-overtime 66-61 decision to Carmel last Wednesday night in an East Suburban Catholic Conference meeting. Marist slipped to 6-3, 1-1.