After falling short in her previous seasons, Caylin Rufus would love to see her York girls basketball team capture the title in the Thanksgiving tournament the Dukes are hosting this week.
Through two games, things are looking good.
One night after combining for 33 points in a win over Niles West, Danielle Dennis poured in 20 points and Rufus followed with 14 in a 72-47 victory against Downers Grove South.
"We are hoping we can win the tournament this year," Rufus said. "The past few years, we haven't won it; we always lose one game and get third place.
"We are pretty happy right now. With a new coach everything is new, but I think the big thing right now is our chemistry. We are doing way better than we did last year."
With Rufus and a couple of her teammates saddled with foul trouble in the opening half, Dennis did most of the heavy lifting. She had 7 points in the first quarter and 8 more in the second as the Dukes extended an early 3-point lead to 39-21 by halftime.
Rufus then scored 6 points in the third period as York forced the visitors into nine turnovers, squelching any hopes of a comeback.
"We had a good start, put some pressure on them," York coach Brandon Collings said. "But then we got into foul trouble, we had our top three posts with two, two and three fouls. They came back and cut it to 16-13. So we had a 3-point lead with my two starters and my next post on the bench and we go on a 23-8 run. Just like the first game, everyone we put in contributed."
In fact 12 players scored at least 2 points for York, which finished with 12 steals. Lauren Kjome tallied 8 points and Madison Stark and Emily Rohman each had 5.
The Mustangs (0-2) who had just four players enter into the scoring column, were led by the 24 points of Jennifer Masello. The senior scored all 8 of her team's points in the third quarter and finished with 23 free-throw attempts. She also added 12 rebounds and 3 steals. Fellow varsity veteran Holly Lueken chipped in with 17 points.
"We do have a lot of shooters out there," said Downers Grove South coach Lyndsie Long, whose team does not return a lot of experience outside Masello and Lueken. "Once we start playing together and realizing our roles, it will be scary. It won't be just two girls in double figures, it might be three or four or the whole starting five.
"York's ball movement was really nice. They know where to look for passes and they move the ball quickly. It makes it hard to recover, especially with them having a good inside and outside game."