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Early-morning wake-ups are the sort of thing swimmers are used to, not girls basketball players. Yet here was South Elgin's squad, getting up while the moon was still high in the sky to prepare for Tuesday's Oswego East tournament game against Plainfield Central.
"I was up at 5:45," South Elgin's Becca Smith said. "My dad and I went out to breakfast and talked over the game. We got to the school by 7. We're not used to getting up that early."
The Storm did very well with its early-morning tipoff, racing to a large early lead and running away with a 74-38 victory over the Wildcats.
"Coach (Tim Prendergast) called us out (Monday)," Smith said. "That was a game we felt we could have won or should have won. He called us out and we responded. We just came into today ready to play."
South Elgin (4-8) had to wake up early because of its Monday loss to Kaneland. By beating Plainfield Central, the Storm get to sleep in. Their third game in the Oswego East tournament takes place Wednesday at noon against Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division foe Metea Valley, a team the Storm then hosts Jan. 6 in league play.
"We lost after not playing for 10 days and I thought we were flat," Prendergast said. "It is what it is. We said to ourselves, 'look, we're in the consolation bracket and let's try to make the best out of it.' We still have the opportunity to win three games in this tournament. At the end of the day, it's not so much about wins and losses as it is getting better as individuals and as a team."
Smith was especially difficult to control. The junior scored a game-high 25 points in a contest in which the Storm never trailed. Like all South Elgin starters, she did not play in the fourth quarter.
"I thought today, we did a really nice job on the boards," Prendergast said. "Defensively we did a good job. We moved the ball well and finished our layups."
As important as her points, Smith did a sequence of little things well. On one sequence, she missed a shot but then hustled to the end line to reach the ball and knock it off a Plainfield Central player and win the out of bounds possession. Efforts like that took place all over the court.
"That was the difference," Smith said. "Like coach said, (Monday) we came out lethargic. Today we came out with energy and ready to go and ready to get a win.
South Elgin's breakout took place early in the first quarter -- a 10-0 run that took the lead to 16-4. The lead never slipped back into single-digits though South Elgin hit the Wildcats with a sequence of long scoring runs. By halftime, the lead was 44-15 and the starters departed with a 63-25 advantage.