Every team has to battle through the peaks and valleys of a season, but a win on a night when the team didn't play its best can sometimes make a season.
IC Catholic Prep defeated Chicago Christian 53-47 on Friday in Elmhurst despite what IC coach Aubree Lawrence said was an inconsistent game. However, when the team needed stability it found junior Erin Maloney, who made a number of big plays at crucial points of the game.
"We call her the 'Praying Mantis' because I feel like she is always looking for the opportunity to make a play. She's such a gamer," Lawrence said of Maloney.
Maloney, Chiara Gaudio and Grace Vitek all scored in double digits for IC Catholic. The Knights led the game at halftime but found themselves in a hole midway through the third quarter after they blew a 5-point lead. It was then that Lawrence's team turned up the defensive pressure and found its rhythm on offense.
Both Vitek and Maloney scored the bulk of their points in the second half after Lawrence said the team calmed down and stopped trying to force the offense.
"I think we were trying to press the issue, we panicked a little bit," Lawrence said. "It led to a turnover or a bad shot or a quick shot which then converted to a layup or a missed weakside rebound which turned into a layup or something like that. A bad decision offensively led to a bad decision defensively.
"So it was important just to breathe and take a moment and look to the leaders on the floor, Erin being one, and make a play."
The leadership worked as the Knights took the lead back late in the third quarter and never gave it back.
Chicago Christian made a late run in the fourth but free throws from Gaudio and senior Rory Manion iced the game for the home team.
In the end IC's defensive pressure helped take the game. The team switched from a man press to a zone defense early in the game, but when the Knights needed a stop Maloney played heads up on Chicago Christian's hottest scorer, Kaycee Pittman.
"In the long run, the big picture," Lawrence said, "going through these little hurdles will be good for us."