With Bartlett precariously hanging on to a 39-37 lead after a Streamwood rally, Hawks girls basketball coach Denise Sarna delivered a simple message in the team huddle before the fourth quarter began: Clamp down on defense.
Sarna's players clearly took her words to heart.
Bartlett held its district rival to 3-for-14 shooting, contested shot after shot and forced 5 turnovers in the final eight minutes to break the game open in a 56-46 Upstate Eight crossover victory Tuesday night in Streamwood.
Sarna was especially encouraged by the Hawks' commitment to contain Streamwood standout forward Hannah McGlone and guard Holly Foret. Bartlett limited Streamwood's leading scorers for the season to a combined 19 points. Foret went scoreless in the second half and finished with 8 points on 3-for-13 shooting. The Winona State-bound McGlone also shot 3-for-13 and ended with 11 points.
"I thought our defensive effort really stepped up in the (fourth) quarter," Sarna said. "We tightened up our defense on Foret and Hannah. They're both very talented players and missed some shots they normally make, but we made it not as comfortable for them to shoot tonight, made them rush it offensively a little bit."
Bartlett complemented its stingy defensive performance with clutch offensive plays in the final quarter from a variety of players, including two sophomore reserves. Guard Nicole Gerdevich provided the Hawks (11-8) some breathing room with a driving layup and free throw that boosted Bartlett's lead to 42-37. A baseline jumper by another sophomore guard, Shelley Lyjack, pushed the lead to 44-37. After a pair of free throws from McGlone, Ally Giampapa sank a reverse layup and buried a 3-pointer that gave Bartlett a 49-39 edge with 4:57 remaining. The elusive senior guard capped her team's 12-2 quarter-opening run with a pull-up jumper that made it 51-39. Streamwood (7-9) drew no closer than 10 points the rest of the way in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover game.
"It was a team effort," said Giampapa, who paced Bartlett with 17 points. "Our bench is incredible. They really did a great job in the fourth quarter. Our whole team has a great bond. We trust each other so much. We know that anyone can step up and play big for us at any point in the game. That's what happened again tonight."
While Bartlett took charge in the fourth quarter, Streamwood jumped in front early 7-0 and led for much of the first half thanks in large part to a breakout performance from Jenejha Williams. The smooth-shooting 6-foot-2 freshman center poured in a season-high 17 points while canning 7 of 8 baskets. Her 6 first-quarter points propelled the Sabres to a 13-12 lead, and she ripped off 8 straight points to help the hosts cut a 6-point deficit to 2 in the third quarter. But the Sabres sorely missed Williams when she went to the bench with her fourth foul 43 seconds into the fourth quarter. By the time she returned three minutes later, Bartlett had stretched a 3-point advantage to 10.
"Jenejha played a great game," Streamwood coach George Rosner said. "She got called for a couple of cheap fouls that hurt us. It was unfortunate. We thought we could take her out with their lead at 3 points, but Bartlett played great down the stretch."
Bartlett hopes to extend its winning streak to three games when it visits West Chicago at 6 p.m. Saturday. Streamwood will look to avenge a 46-42 loss in December at St. Charles North when the Sabres host the North Stars at 7:15 p.m. Friday.