Rosary holds off Aurora Christian
Rosary appeared to be in the driver's seat with a 9-point lead and possession off a jump ball with just 2:38 remaining in Tuesday's nonconference girls basketball outing with Aurora Christian.
However, the host Royals went two minutes without scoring and the visiting Eagles fought back to within 1 when reserve Sydney Drozdowski stepped to the line for a one-and-bonus.
Even though the sophomore missed the back half, sister Taylor Drozdowski was there for the rebound and follow-up bucket that produced a 48-44 triumph with Aurora Christian failing to score for the final 25 seconds.
Although the two teams didn't meet in the season-opening IMSA-ACS Hoops Happening Thanksgiving tourney, Tuesday's outcome has sent them in opposite directions with Rosary (4-2) now owning a three-game win streak while Aurora Christian (3-3) needs to reverse a three-game skid.
"(My opponent) was boxing me out toward the center, so it was more on instinct that I went baseline to get around her in order to grab it," Taylor Drozdowski said. "Obviously it's a joy to score, but it's playing fundamental basketball and that's my job."
"Taylor had a couple turnovers late, but as a senior, she got the rebound off that missed free throw and that was the ballgame," Rosary coach Don Rasich noted.
The opening quarter ended in an 8-all draw and the second quarter saw both sides hit 8-of-10 free throws as fouls began to mount. However, the Royals' violations were spread among more players while Mary Kate Bakala had her most productive quarter scoring 5 of her team-best 12 points to pace the hosts to a 24-18 halftime lead.
"I think the key all game was for us to stay together and put mistakes behind us," Bakala said. "We kept talking and supporting each other."
Whenever Aurora Christian tried to narrow the gap Rosary rebuilt a variety of leads and took a 39-30 advantage into the final eight minutes.
"We certainly fought to the end, but we just can't have three key players in foul trouble," Aurora Christian coach Burney Wilkie noted. "Defensively we played pretty well for the most part, but we didn't rebound near enough. We gave them too many second chances."
Sami Hultine nailed a trio of 3-pointers in the second half in helping the Eagles' comeback bid.
"We came out quicker in the second half and I think everyone stepped up their play," Hultine added, acknowledging that the Eagles are still sorting things out under the basket having lost two top players. Senior Gabby Galato suffered a knee injury during volleyball season while last year's top rebounder Natasha Brown graduated.
"We definitely played with hear throughout the game. We battled hard and gave them a run," Kirsten Madsen insisted. "I always think we have time and believe we can win, so the comeback didn't surprise me."
Madsen finished with a game-high 19 points while Hutline, Tori Henning, and Emily Ward each added 9. Unfortunately for the Eagles, those were four of five players saddled with 3 fouls.
In addition to Bakala's double-digit effort, Taylor Drozdowski tallied 9 points while her sister and Jenna Hernandez both added 6.
"As a sophomore off the bench I simply try to do whatever I can, be it a basket, a rebound, a free throw or whatever will help us win," Sydney Drozdowski said. "It's great to get this win so we have some momentum going into Thursday at DeLaSalle."
"I'm not surprised it went down to the wire because Aurora Christian is a good team," Rasich said. "We stuck with our offense but we got a little tentative with the ball. We wanted to attack and if we didn't score, bring it back out. But we're still young and at times, people were just standing. It was still a team effort and at times even our post players helped stop their three-point shooting."