Willowbrook's girls basketball team decided to make its 20th victory of the season a decisive one.
After consecutive losses to West Suburban Gold foes Hinsdale South and Morton, the Warriors bounced back with a 58-36 victory against Downers Grove South on Tuesday in Villa Park.
"We came off a couple of bad losses, games we should have won, so we had all that energy," Willowbrook senior Anita Sterling said, "and we just released it on DGS tonight."
"We needed a confidence-booster," Willowbrook coach Terry Harrell added. "Got to come back and be a 2 (sectional) seed, play like a 2 seed."
The Warriors (20-5, 10-2) started slowly, committing 5 turnovers and missing 6 shots before Sterling scored the Warriors' first basket nearly halfway through the first quarter. But after spotting the Mustangs a 5-point lead, the Warriors went on a 25-1 run that ended when Ava Porlier scored 31 seconds before halftime. Molly Krawczykowski answered with a 3-pointer and the Warriors led 28-8 at the break.
"Once we started our press, we were able to score a lot and then they got frustrated," Krawczykowski said. "They made easy mistakes."
"We started making some layups," Harrell added. "Basically, Anita started making some layups. It was like Anita 8, the other team 8. Then at that point we started hitting some free throws, and then we hit some shots. So the important thing was to make some shots, because last week we were really cold."
"I think we started well, and then we had some lapses," Mustangs coach Ellen O'Brien added. "I think the game was kind of physical. They let them play a little bit more, and they outhustled us."
The Mustangs (12-10, 7-4) broke out of their doldrums in the third quarter, cutting the Warriors' lead to 32-19 with 5:32 left in the period. That was as close as the Mustangs got, Willowbrook quickly getting the margin back into the 20s, peaking at 29.
It was a stark turnaround from the teams' Jan. 4 meeting, when the Warriors needed overtime to win at Downers Grove.
"We had our crowd tonight, we wanted revenge, we wanted it not to be a close game at all," Sterling said. "We wanted nothing to do with (overtime). We wanted to be able to spectate from the bench."
With its league schedule done, the Warriors are a game behind first-place Hinsdale South, which has a game remaining Friday at Leyden.
"We didn't expect to be behind them, but we are," Harrell said. "So it is what it is."
Sterling led all scorers with 18 points, and Krawczykowski added 14. Kristen Zemke led Downers South with 9 points.