Championship week, as proclaimed by Westminster Christian head coach Ken Flickinger, has come a little early for the Warriors' girls basketball team. And it's already off to a good start.
With a 62-30 win at home over Elgin to wrap up the Elgin City Classic title on Tuesday, the Warriors (14-4) will look ahead to Friday's matchup with Christian Liberty for the opportunity to lock up their first Northeastern Athletic Conference championship.
"That was the goal of ours, they have it written on the wall and it was one of things we wanted to accomplish this year. We'll be excited, we're really excited about it," said Flickinger. "I was really happy, as good as we played last week, you always are kind of worried there's just going to be that letdown and they just came out in the first quarter and really played good basketball so that kind of set the tone for us even though we got a little sloppy."
Freshman Maddie Versluys led the Warriors (14-4) with 18 points and 4 rebounds as 12 of her points came in the first quarter when Westminster raced out to a 22-4 advantage, which included the game's first 12 points. McKaila Hayes was the other Warrior in double figures with 10 points as Westminster shot a 50 percent clip from the field (24 of 48) and scored 14 points in the paint in the first half alone on a series of fast breaks.
"It's a big week to play our hardest," said Versluys. "When we get it into the rhythm, when we get good passes, everything gets going."
Elgin outscored the Warriors 15-13 in the second quarter via 10 Westminster turnovers to climb within 16 at the half. The Maroons were within 11 with 2:40 left in the half but Hayes nailed a deep shot in the right corner and then, off a steal, converted a layup that put it back up to 17 with a minute remaining.
"Even when you ran into that rough spot in the second quarter a little bit, a little bit in the third, it's way better to have to deal with that when you got a lead versus being behind. It was a really good start for us," Flickinger said.
Melanie Berg led Elgin (6-14) with 7 points off the bench while Anna Eckholm, Abby Pierre-Louis and Kristin Tayag chipped in 6 each. The Maroons, who never led, were plagued with 29 turnovers, foul trouble in Tamara Milosevic and were without starting point guard Maggie Powers due to an illness.
"We were really getting pinned down in the lane, I wasn't really happy about that. We didn't do a real good job of clearing that out, it was one of several issues tonight," said Elgin coach Dr. Nick Bumbales. "The posts have been playing great here of late, they've been our offensive threat and right out of the box they were in foul trouble and that made it really difficult and then you're playing from behind and you have to take chances."
Larkin 47, Elgin Academy 16: The 10-game losing skid is over for the Royals (2-16) as Quixmia Washington's game-high 17 points helped fuel an Elgin City Classic win at Westminster Christian. Amber McGhee also chipped in 9 and Shawndrea Hill added 8 points for Larkin.
"We've been looking a little bit more on our zone offense, we just need to be patient and keep working it," Royals coach Ruben Flores said. "It's good to get the monkey off the back."
Kaitlyn Pearson led Elgin Academy (8-10) with 6 points. Coach Bill Rodriguez only had 6 players on the bench with him due to final exams.