Another rally, and another Maine West victory
Already have experienced its fair share of second-half victory rallies this season, Maine West's girls basketball team was hardly fazed when it trailed Maine East 37-29 late in third quarter on Tuesday night in Park Ridge.
"When that happens we kind of gain confidence and realize we have our own individual strengths and use them," said Warriors 5-foot-7 senior forward Eliza Palarz. "After we starting falling behind, we decide we are better than that."
And true to form, the visiting Warriors were better in the final 10 minutes as they went on 13-2 and 19-3 runs to steer clear to a 63-50 victory.
Maine West improved to 7-3 and 2-0 in the Central Suburban North while Maine East fell to 3-4 and 1-1.
"We know these are important conference games," said Palarz, who had an important season-high 15 points with 4 rebounds and 1 assist. "We knew we had to be more aggressive and mentally stronger."
Maine East came out strong and led 11-8 despite a pair of 3-pointers in the first six minutes by West senior guard Monica Liwag (8 points, 3 steals, 1 rebound).
A coast-to-coast layup by 5-foot-3 junior Lauryn Alba Garner (game-high 22 points) gave East a 13-10 after one quarter.
The Blue Demons got the advantage as high as 21-15 when Marian Ismail hit a 3-pointer. They led 23-19 at intermission.
"We were lackadaisical at the beginning," said Maine West coach Derril Kipp. "We had 10 turnovers in the first half. We didn't get the ball into the proper spots. But this team doesn't give up. They like to come back but we don't want to have to do that all the time."
The comeback started when sophomore Jessica Riedl hit 2 free throws and moments later Catherine Johnson made a sweeping move to the basket that started near the free throw line. The sophomore scooped the ball softly off the backboard to cut the deficit to 37-33.
Johnson (6 assists, 4 points, 3 rebounds) then made a nice pass inside to Palarz, who converted a 3-point play and the deficit was down to 1 point.
West took their first lead since 2-0 when freshman Rachel Kent (team-high 18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) forced a turnover near midcourt.
The Warriors got the ball to Palarz for layup and 38-37 lead.
A fastbreak layup by Alba Garner gave East its last lead at 44-42 before Liz Sanchez hit a 3-pointer to send West on a 19-3 run that put the game away.
Kent, who also had 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, scored 10 of her points during West's big closing run.
"Maine West played at a high level the whole game and we got complacent," said Maine East coach Karol Hanusiak. "We tried a 3-2 zone multiple times and all we would do is stick out a hand and they would go to the basket. It's very disappointing because we know we have the personnel. It was a great game until the end when we had to start fouling."
Hanusiak said senior guard Janelle Alba Garber (10 points) was playing ill. The senior guard averages 15 points per game. "I give her credit just for being out there," the coach said.
Jordan Hart collected 3 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assist and 1 blocked shot for the Warriors, who host Niles North on Friday night.
Kipp also got key contributions from the bench, including Allison Pearson (6 points, 3 rebounds), Sanchez (3 rebounds), Acacia Hernandez (2 points) and Riedl (4 points, 3 rebounds) Richa Patel, Colleen Rice and Anne Lipinski each grabbed a rebound.
"Eliza (Palarz) really helped us out," Kipp said. "They were doubling down on Rachel (Kent) and Eliza was able to get to the basket."