Bodies were colliding at a rather brisk pace in Saturday's championship game of the Elk Grove-Hoffman Estates Thanksgiving tournament.
"I just love playing in these kind of games," said Hoffman senior Becca Stoczynski, who was right in the middle of the physical action of the Hawks' 35-28 victory over the host Grenadiers. "It gets me more pumped up. I guess it's that adrenaline rush that works for me."
Stoczynski worked as hard as anyone, notably after having to sit out four minutes after a collision with Elk Grove junior Melissa Solorio when the two went after a lob pass near the basket with 3:02 left in first quarter.
"I was afraid she dislocated her shoulder," said Hawks coach Mike Nocella, who sat near Stoczynski while she iced her shoulder and worked it back into shape.
"I just needed it to crack in," said the all-area basketball and volleyball player. "After we collided, I fell on it."
But no one would have known, as the 6-footer scored 14 of her game-high 15 points after she returned to the floor with 6:38 left in the second quarter.
"She's played that way all season, and last year too," Nocella said. "I don't know how she does it. I've been asking that for two or three years now. She's unbelievable."
"People for some reason don't recognize her as much as they should. It's a very dynamic duo with her and Destinee (Young)."
Solorio also recovered nicely for Elk Grove and was back on the floor with 5:27 left in the first half.
Seniors Diamond Boyd and Kari Czeszewski led the Grens (4-1) with 8 points apiece while Jacksonville State-bound Kelly Naughton added 6.
"I'm disappointed and they (players) should too because I didn't feel we came out with he right mindset," said Grens coach Kathie Swanson. "We settled for a lot of outside shots instead of exploiting what they were giving us with their defense.
"We talked about being ready from the start as being a big issue. A lot of what we worked on in practice did not show up in the game. That's what is disappointing. But the girls have to realize this is only one game and must get ready for conference."
Young, an Old Dominion recruit, added 6 points with 11 rebounds. Stoczynski also 8 rebounds and 3 steals while Hawks senior guard Shante Hill collected 6 points and 6 rebounds.
"It was tough," Young said of the Hawks' fifth straight win without a loss this season. "We wanted a good showing like this to show us how strong we can be."
Young showed how versatile she can be, often bringing the ball up court for the Hawks, who also received 4 assists from sophomore Mary Saitta and 3 steals by Hill.
"It was nice team effort," Nocella said. "We got good play out of everyone. We are building for the future."
A 16-footer on the baseline by Boyd gave Elk Grove an 8-3 lead. The Grens extended it to 12-5 with a fastbreak layup by Czeszewski.
But the Hawks used an 11-2 run to surge ahead 16-14, capped by Andrea Wolinski's 3-pointer from the top of the key and back-to-back layups by Stoczynski, one on an assist from Saitta (3 rebounds).
Hoffman took it biggest lead at 26-16 on a putback by Stoczynski with 3:20 left in the third quarter.
Elk Grove, though, made things interesting again.
A bank shot by Czeszewski and 3-pointer by Taylor Brown cut the lead 26-21 after three quarters, and the Grens were within 30-26 when Naughton hit a 15-footer in the lane with 2:17 left.
But they would get no closer.
Stoczynski got inside for another layup and 33-27 lead with 1:29 left .
"We're so excited for conference play to start," Stoczynski said. "We want to be able to show what we're capable of."
Stoczynski got to show her older siblings Scott and Angela one of her top games. Her brother and sister, former Hoffman athletes, were in town from North Dakota.
"I wanted to make them proud," Becca said with a smile.
She and the Hawks were all smiles after starting the season with a Saturday's championship.