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Rosary gave its new basketball coach a nice present to open the season Monday night at home.
Employing a suffocating defense the entire night against IMSA, Jessie Wilcox made her debut as the Royals' new girls basketball coach an unqualified success.
In not allowing IMSA double digits in any of the four quarters, Rosary (1-0) scored the first 10 points and never looked back in posting a 58-23 victory over its neighborhood rival.
"As you can tell, we don't have a lot of height," Wilcox said of the Royals swarming defense that forced 19 steals to the Titans' zero over the first three quarters. "We have a lot of speed on the team. If we can get some steals and easy buckets in transition, we're going to take advantage of that."
Sydney Zaragosa certainly made the most of her limited playing time.
The junior, the fifth man off the Royals' bench, led both teams with 16 points.
Zaragosa, mirroring the consecutive point runs earlier in the game by Mary Wentworth and Karly Tate, scored 6 points in less than in a minute late in the third quarter as the Royals' opportunistic defense repeatedly harassed Titan ballhandlers.
"I was trying to help my team," said Zaragosa, who was the beneficiary of several outstanding passes from teammates for routine scores. "I was maximizing what I could do. We wanted to score 63 points."
Tate, who augmented the Zaragosa game-high total with 12 points, had 8 steals in the Royals' trapping defense.
"Our motto this year is to be a part larger than yourself," the St. Charles resident said. "Defense is what causes offense. Pressure defense is always going to create offense."
IMSA guard Rae Hohle converted a 3-point play for the Titans' only points of the opening quarter, and Lindsey Conley was an immovable force in the defensive post for IMSA (0-1) with 5 blocks.
But the Royals' depth created more and more separation as halftime approached.
The Royals' Wentworth scored all 8 of her points in succession during the second quarter as Rosary entered the intermission with a 32-12 cushion.
The Rosary penchant for thievery only intensified after the break.
The Royals' 8 steals in the quarter were the foundation of their 18 points that enabled Wilcox to play the bench for much of the second half.
"We don't play in the summer," IMSA coach Keith McIntosh said of the disadvantages his players face. "It's going to look that way (with turnover issues) for awhile. Our growth won't come until the second half of the season. We've only been at it for two weeks."
Rosary also welcomed back Madison Richmond, who played her first game since a season-ending knee injury last Christmas.
The senior from Batavia scored 4 points in her return.
"We worked really hard on getting into their passing lanes," Richmond said of the dominant theme of the game.
Conley scored 9 points to lead IMSA.