An individual scoring milestone was the headline grabber.
But it was some tough team defense that really told the story of Saturday's girls basketball game between Carmel and Grayslake Central.
In the final game of the five-day Warren Blue Devil Classic, Grayslake Central senior forward Morgan Dahlstrom went off for 23 points and 13 rebounds. Her point total sent her over the 1,000-point mark for her career, a feat that was announced to the crowd after the game.
But while Dahlstrom, who now has 1,016 points for her career, was rolling up the points, Carmel was busy shutting down pretty much everyone else. The Corsairs turned up the heat on their full-court press and held Grayslake Central to just 8 fourth-quarter points on a 27 percent shooting clip from the field.
Carmel also forced 6 Grayslake Central turnovers in the fourth quarter alone to take control of a nip-and-tuck game and pull away for a 51-41 victory.
The win gave Carmel a second-place finish in the tournament with a 4-1 record. The Corsairs (13-2 overall) lost their only game at Warren to Wheeling, which also finished 4-1 but was crowned tournament champion because of its head-to-head win over Carmel.
"Our team defense definitely helped us win that game," said Carmel senior guard Cassidy Kloss, who finished with a team-high 16 points and 7 rebounds. "We started off with a press that they were breaking really easily, so we switched up our press and we were more successful with our press."
Carmel forward Emma Rappe, who was named to the all-tournament team along with teammate Kathleen Felicelli, was also more successful once she figured out how to keep herself on the floor. She was tagged with the assignment of guarding Dahlstrom, who has already inked a full scholarship with Division II Southern Indiana. Early on, Rappe got into foul trouble and had to spend some time on the bench.
But after scoring just 3 points in the first half, Rappe rebounded and finished with 11 points on the game. She also rolled up 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
"I went out a little too tight and aggressively on (Dahlstrom) and I needed to step off of it," Rappe said. "Once I realized how I needed to play on her, I got the hang of it for the rest of the game."
The Corsairs also got double-figures out of Felicelli (10 points). On top of that, they out-scored Grayslake Central in bench points, 12-0.
Reserves Sam Melillo and Alexa Svoboda each had 4 points for Carmel.
"I thought our bench did great with giving us scoring help," Carmel coach Kelly Perz said. "I told the bench before the game that it's an opportunity to go in and make a play, that you're not just going in to be on the court. You've got to make plays and they did great. That was a difference in the game."
Dahlstrom, who made the all-tournament team along with teammate Carson Sparkman, tried her best to make a difference for Grayslake Central. She scored 5 of the Rams' 8 fourth-quarter points. She also had 3 offensive rebounds in the quarter to keep precious possessions alive.
"I was just trying to help our team any way I could, going hard for rebounds and looking for my teammates," Dahlstrom said. "(Rappe) was tough and very strong in the post and it was tough to get good position on her. Carmel is a good team. They've always been aggressive like that and we kind of fell apart in the last quarter."
Grayslake Central, which got 8 points apiece out of Sparkman and Maddy Miller, was playing without starting guard Kelly Moroney, who was out with an illness. The Rams (10-5 overall) were 3-2 over the tournament at Warren.
"We just had a bad stretch at the beginning of the fourth quarter with five straight turnovers," Grayslake Central coach Steve Ikenn said. "That's where their lead went from 2 to 9. That's where it got away. Carmel is a very good defensive team and we rushed through things and got out of rhythm."
Wheeling 58, Deerfield 46: Hailey Dammeier scored 20 points and led three players in double-figures as Wheeling was crowed the champion of the Warren Blue Devil Classic.
Wheeling finished with a 4-1 record at Warren, as did Carmel. But since Wheeling won its head-to-head matchup with Carmel, Wheeling earned the first-place trophy.
Deanna Kuzmanic (13 points) and Hannah Dobrowski (12 points) also had double-figures for Wheeling, which outscored Deerfield 19-9 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Wheeling hit 43 percent of its field goals compared to just 18 percent for Deerfield, which stayed in the game by draining 27-of-36 free throws.
Margot Sylvan led Deerfield with 18 points.
Palatine 52, Warren 50: Despite four 3-pointers and 24 points from Kristen O'Brien, Warren wasn't able to get by Palatine at its own Blue Devil Classic.
O'Brien was 4-of-7 from 3-point range and also pulled down 10 rebounds. The Blue Devils also got 9 points from Kylie Nedelka.
Meanwhile, Morgan Radtke poured in a game-high 26 points for Palatine, hitting 11-of-15 shots. Teammate Morgan Gallagher finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 3-pointers.
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- Grayslake Central High School
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