In danger of losing to a team with only half as many wins as it had earned this season, and on the verge of dropping its first game in the Blue Devil Classic, Carmel finally got its act together in the fourth quarter Friday night.
Scoring more points in that last stanza (21) than they had put on the board in the entire first half, the Corsairs pulled away for a 49-39 victory over Lake Forest. It marked Carmel's fourth triumph in four games in the tournament, while the Scouts fell to 2-2 in tourney play.
"We just took a deep breath entering the fourth quarter, controlled ourselves and played smart as a team," said Kayla Quinn, Carmel's 6-foot-1 senior center, who scored 6 of her team-high 12 points in the final eight minutes and also led the Corsairs with 9 rebounds. "We allowed ourselves to play their game most of the night, but when we finally slowed it down on offense and picked it up defensively, we were able to take control."
Lake Forest (5-12 overall) led by as many as 5 points in the first quarter and by 4 midway through the third period, but Carmel (11-4) broke a 28-28 tie early in the fourth quarter on Quinn's short jump shot in the lane and took the lead for good on a pair of free throws by junior guard Nicole Bitter with 5:43 remaining.
Junior guard Kathleen Felicelli (4 assists) scored 9 points for the winners, senior forward Claire Ogrinc (5 rebounds) and Bitter tallied 8 points each, and junior forward Leah Lach added 6 points in a balanced scoring attack.
"Balance is the name of our game," said Carmel coach Kelly Perz. "On any given night, any of our girls can step up and provide the scoring we need, which makes us hard to scout. We usually get off to a fast start, so this was a different way for us to win tonight."
The Scouts were paced by junior Annie Keller, who scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed 9 boards. Sophomore guard Brooke Green, who hit the only 3-pointer of the night for either team, added 7 points, while junior center Kate Arnson snared a game-best 10 rebounds.
"For the most part, I thought we handled their pressure well, but as they started to pull away, we couldn't hit our shots and they got some great looks in the middle of our zone," said second-year Lake Forest coach Kyle Wilhelm, a Mundelein graduate. "Annie had a very good game. She's an undersized post player who demands the ball and goes strong to the basket. She reads the ball well off the rim. She's an instinctive player with a good basketball IQ and we look to her as our go-to scorer."