It was perhaps Willowbrook's best game of the girls basketball season, but it wasn't enough to defeat Downers Grove South and its twin towers.
Co-captains Jen Masello and Holly Lueken combined for 53 points and 24 rebounds in the Mustangs' 69-56 victory Saturday night in Villa Park. But the Mustangs couldn't relax in the West Suburban Conference Gold Division game until late in the fourth quarter.
"That's great. If you can get two players scoring 50 points plus for you, what else can you ask for?" Mustangs coach Lyndsie Long asked rhetorically. "They've been great leaders this year."
The Mustangs (3-3, 1-0) were without starting point guard Maggie Greco because of a college visit, and Willowbrook took advantage. The Warriors (1-8, 0-2) surprised the Mustangs by jumping out to a 21-13 lead late in the first quarter on Cecilia Lizasuain's lay-in. It was their biggest lead of the game.
"Without her we're missing our three-year starter at point guard, so I had (sophomore Aaliyah Hatter) step up," Mustangs coach Lyndsie Long said. "She did a nice job. Of course there's things to learn, and things like that. But somehow we just pulled that off. And I'm proud of the younger girls that stepped up and I'm proud of our older girls for figuring it out toward the end."
It was a high-scoring first half, with the Mustangs taking a 42-39 lead at the break.
"I was getting a little worried there, but give it to Willowbrook. They were knocking down 3s. They were doing a great job, so hat's off to them. I'm just glad we came out on top," Long said with a sigh of relief.
The Warriors were led in scoring by junior Emma Barrington, a three-sport athlete who came off the bench to score 17 points, 13 of them in the second period. It wasn't a surprise to Harrell, though.
"Because when she does it, she can do that. It's just that there's days it's not quite there. But when she's Good Emma, she's really good," he said. "And tonight she was really good. And she had a mismatch because they couldn't guard her off the dribble."
Downers South led by 2 going into the fourth quarter, then held Willowbrook to just 2 points in the final period on 1-of-14 shooting. Still, the Mustangs didn't earn their first double-digit lead until the final minute.
"My two scorers had to sit for a while. That hurt, that really hurt. Fouls kind of got us tonight," Harrell said.
Despite the foul trouble juniors Katelyn McCann finished with 12 points and Lizasuain added 10.