Proviso East girls basketball coach Ezra PridGeon stressed the importance for his Pirates to play four quarters in every game, regardless of the opponent.
"We must play hard every second and every minute of every quarter," he said.
Everything seemed to click for the Pirates on Thursday night in Northlake.
With 6-foot senior forward Tia Barlow scoring 14 points and 6-foot junior forward Jasmine Levy reaching double figures with 11, Proviso East used a solid all-around effort to defeat the Eagles 69-22 in the West Suburban Gold match.
Even in victory, PridGeon knew the Eagles (3-4, 0-3) were a team his Pirates (5-4, 3-0) could not overlook.
"They're aggressive," the veteran Pirates coach said. "They are a team you have to be ready to play. They are well-prepared and we don't take them or anyone lightly in our conference."
The Eagles, playing their second game without freshman point guard Artasia Gusman (illness), kept things close in the first five minutes before the visitors used a 9-1 run to close out the period with a 16-5 advantage.
The Pirates outrebounded the smaller Eagles, taking advantage of second and third shots on offense.
"Rebounding hurt us the most," said junior guard Alondra Chavarria, who is averaging 18.4 points. "We don't have the height of other teams so we have to box out all the time."
The Eagles have a lot of time to work on that and other things before their next game. They do not play until Dec. 23 at the St. Viator tournament.
"We didn't box out and they would get a fifth or sixth shot sometimes," said Leyden coach Drewann Pancratz, a former standout basketball and volleyball player for Schaumburg High School and Carthage College.
"And we didn't shoot well (6-of-27 from the field and 10-of-25 at the free throw line). We had the shots we wanted and 80 percent of our shots are layups but we didn't hit them so that didn't help. We did OK against their press but we didn't finish."
Freshman Autumn McGee finished with 7 points while Chavarria had five, all at the free throw line.
Six other Eagles (junior Jannely Hernandez, junior Catherine Elliot, senior Liz McCluskey, sophomore Rebecca Miranda, senior Alyssa Aiello and sophomore Gianna Grande) all contributed at least a point.
"Our freshmen (McGee and Gusman) have played huge roles right off the bat," Pancratz said. "Sometimes I have to remind myself they're only freshmen."
Gusman has been a big factor controlling the Eagles' offense.
"She is kind of growing in her role, she is composed and kind of dictates everything we do," Pancratz said. "Autumn (McGee) is getting a lot more aggressive and her confidence is on the rise. We're excited for both of their futures."
PridGeon sees a future for the young Eagles, too.
"I give their coaches credit," he said. "They've turned things around and their kids play hard. We respect that."
Chavarria said the Eagles are ready to move forward.
"We are hoping to get our point guard (Gusman) back soon," she added. "And we have to start working as a team. We have to stay positive no matter what the score of the game is."
"We need to be more positive," McGee added. "Even if we are not on the court, we have to support those who are."