When South Elgin and Bartlett met on Dec. 6 in South Elgin, the Storm was without injured junior Savanah Uveges and freshman Nadia Yang was playing on the sophomore team. Bartlett won, 53-50.
Six weeks later, South Elgin is quite the different team and Bartlett learned Saturday afternoon just how different.
Uveges and Yang scored 16 points each and South Elgin got quality contributions from all 11 players who saw court time in beating the Hawks 64-51 in Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division girls basketball action at Bartlett.
South Elgin (13-10, 4-5) snapped a 7-game losing streak against the Hawks (12-10, 6-3), beating Bartlett for the first time since a 60-55 victory at South Elgin on Feb. 5, 2008.
On a day when Bartlett honored its Hometown Heroes with a full-blown military celebration that included the national anthem being sung to an American flag the full length and width of the basketball court, one would be hard-pressed to find a single hero in South Elgin red.
"We get a lot of fresh legs out there," said Uveges, who added 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 assists and 2 blocked shots in just her fourth game back in the lineup from an ACL injury. "From the first player to the last player we all want it and we all trust each other. Throughout the years it's always been a struggle but it feels great (to beat Bartlett). We always get amped up the most for this game. We've been looking forward to this for a while. All of our hard work paid off today."
While Uveges, who played her most minutes in a single game since returning to the floor, showed the consistency of the all-area player she is, Yang continued to become an emerging star for the Storm. The 5-foot-2 varsity rookie scored 10 of her points in the first quarter, including a 3-pointer for the Storm's first points of the game, as South Elgin broke out to a 14-8 lead after one period. Bartlett led only once in the game, 2-0. Yang also added 4 steals and 3 assists.
"She's fearless," said South Elgin coach Tim Prendergast of Yang. "She's not afraid to shoot and she's been real steady for us. She's a good shooter and a good ballhandler. We knew we had more firepower out there with Savanah and Nadia."
Neither team shot particularly well, Bartlett going 17 of 48 and South Elgin finishing 17-for-60 after being just 13 of 52 through three quarters. But the Storm did bury seven 3-pointers, going 7 of 25 from beyond the arc and South Elgin's defense caused Bartlett, which had 30 turnovers, fits all day.
"I thought our defensive intensity was huge today," said Prendergast, who specifically lauded the interior defense of junior Kennede Miller on Bartlett senior Alyssa Hernandez, who was held to 6 points.
"If we're making 3s and creating turnovers, that's how we have to play basketball."
South Elgin withstood every Bartlett comeback attempt. The Storm led by as many as 8 in the second quarter and 25-20 at halftime before going on a 9-2 run to open the third quarter. South Elgin's biggest lead was 13, 46-33, late in the third quarter, but the Hawks cut the deficit to 5, 48-43, when freshman Nina Pavell hit one of her three 3-pointers with 6 minutes left to play. But South Elgin clamped down on defense and, leading 52-45, used a 3-pointer from Anna Tracy with 3:55 left and a runner in the lane from Uveges 27 seconds later to make it a 57-45 game.
Bartlett attempted one more comeback, drawing to within 57-51 on a Liz Arco basket with 2:08 to go, but that would be the last points the Hawks would score as South Elgin scored the final 7 points of the game, going 5-for-8 at the free-throw line.
"We dug a hole and came out flat," said Bartlett coach Denise Sarna. "We made a lot of mistakes today, mental mistakes and physical mistakes. If we're going to step up to the next level we can't make those mistakes, South Elgin came out fired up and they wanted some revenge. Their kids fought hard. We had a game plan but we didn't execute it. It was like we never had a practice. For whatever reason we took a step back today."
Arco led the Hawks with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Pavell, Kaitlin Brohan and Chantel Zasada added 9 points each. Miller had 9 points and 10 rebounds for the Storm and senior Kara Rodriguez pulled down 8 rebounds as South Elgin won the battle of the boards 40-35.