A banner hangs in the Westminster Christian girls basketball team's locker room stating goals for the season.
One was to become the school's first girls sports team to win back-to-back undefeated Northeastern Athletic Conference titles.
The Warriors accomplished that with authority on Thursday night in Arlington Heights where they rolled to a 67-35 victory over host Christian Liberty Academy.
By finishing 9-0 in the league, Westminster won its 18th straight league game and improved to 16-2 this season.
"All of our seniors have been together since fifth grade," said Warriors senior guard Kinsley Donahue, who scored 15 points with 6 steals. "So this is a big celebration that we accomplished this goal. We've had it (the goal) for a while."
The Warriors also had a big lead pretty early in Thursday's game.
After a 16-footer by Chargers sophomore Samantha Amedin got her team to within 5-4, Westminster went on a 12-2 run and never looked back.
A 3-pointer by McKaila Hays made it 13-4.
Moments later, Donahue scored on a fastbreak layup and sophomore Maddie Versluys hit a 6-footer off a rebound to give the visitors a 17-6 cushion.
Versluys finished with a game-high 17 points while senior Libbie Atchison (7 rebounds) added 11, with 10 in the second half.
Two free throws by Atchison made it 21-9 after one quarter and the Warriors held the hosts to 3 points in the second quarter to extend the lead to 35-12 at intermission.
"We always focus more on defense because the offense will come," said Westminster senior Liz Meschewski, who had 6 assists and 5 points. "We have a talented group of girls. We are really blessed to have that."
The Chargers have a very young team, which includes three freshmen starters including Jasmine Marsh (11 points), Isabella Wolke (6 points) and Eve Rho.
Junior Mikala Pipping added 8 points while senior guard Megan Sullivan chipped in 6, including a 3-pointer in the final quarter.
"Megan is such a calming force for us," said Chargers coach Steve Rowland, whose team is 7-8 and 2-6. "The girls really settle down when she is on the floor. She brings some levity."
Marsh and Pipping brought some nice play in the post.
"Obviously, we got beat by 30 points but I thought that Jasmine and Mikala came out of their shells," Rowland said. "Ken (Flickinger, ninth year coach at Westminster) has a great team and they're going to do real well in the regional.
"We've realized that our girls (Marsh and Pipping) can play and this game was a great example. Tonight, they said 'Wow, I can do this'. We can't see them do this in practice because we don't have girls tall enough to defend them."
Not many teams have been able to defend the Warriors, who are averaging 58 points per game.
Meschewski is one player who gets that offense going.
"Liz played a great game," Flickinger said. "When she is seeing the floor, she makes great passes and gets everyone involved. I was really happy with how Maddie (Versluys) played and McKaila (Hays) played real hard."
Versluys grabbed 10 rebounds while Hays had 7 assists.
Westminster became the Northeastern Athletic Conference's fifth straight undefeated champion.
"We've been preaching a long time that to win this title you've got to go undefeated," Flickinger said. "It's a real good accomplishment for us."
"Defense has been our go-to all season. We may not be playing well or shooting we'll, but our defense has been there."
"If the other team doesn't score, then we're going to be OK," Meschewski added.
The Warriors combined offense and defense to convincingly clinch the crown.
"We've been real determined to keep playing aggressive, no matter what the score," Donahue added. "And I thought we did that this game. This feels awesome.
"It's exciting to be a part of this. It's cool to be on this ride as a team because we've been together for so long."
With their youth, the Chargers should be together for a long time, too.
"With the way our freshmen played, I think it bodes well for the rest of the season and the regional," Rowland said. "Eve (Rho, freshman guard) is what I call our 'gamer'. She's 5-foot-2 at best but she'll fight and fight. She has all the disadvantages of size but you can't tell her that.
"We're so young. But these girls are coming along. I'm really happy with where they are."
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