During pregame warmups for Lyons Township's girls basketball game Monday night at Glenbard West, Lions forward Clare Polega and two of her teammates worked on defending post passes.
That turned out to be a wise drill, as Polega and the Lions' defense swarmed and shut out the Hilltoppers in the first quarter on the way to a 37-24 West Suburban Silver victory.
"Our defense in the post was unbelievable," Lyons coach Katie Meyers said. "We really executed our defensive gameplan."
Polega tipped away passes and stole a couple balls, and the Lions (4-6, 2-3) grabbed every rebound and forced 6 turnovers in the 14-0 opening act.
"It was ugly," Hilltoppers coach Mike Hofland said. "We came out flat. Turnovers, what not, it was just an awful way to start."
At the same time, Lyons Township's offense was in perfect harmony, working swing passes and back cuts into easy baskets behind Glenbard West's defense.
Danielle Beck was one of the main beneficiaries, scoring 10 points to lead the Lions.
"I was so proud of the girls for their offensive intensity," Meyers said. "We scored, what, 14 points? For us to do that is really an accomplishment because we've struggled in the first quarter. When we came out that strong, that was a different team. We're a better LT than before today."
Despite the strong start, Glenbard West (5-4, 3-1) managed to pull within 6 points when point guard Bridget Flanagan (11 points) hit her second 3-pointer in a row right before halftime.
"I thought coming out of halftime we were going to close the gap and we'd be alright," Hofland said. "It just didn't happen. It was a bad night for us. We were off and nobody really took control for us. We were lacking some leadership."
Part of the disarray stems from missing injured center Cayla Herbst, who will be hoping an MRI today on her ankle allows her to reappear on the court this season.
Without her height and length, passing, scoring and rebounding were made far easier for the Lions, who picked up a huge conference victory after a slow conference start, while bringing the Hilltoppers back down to earth following an undefeated start and four-game win streak.
"We've been working really well in practice lately," said Polega, who scored 7 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and picked 4 steals. "We were really fired up after winning our last game and we just wanted to keep the streak going."