Giesey gives Carmel Catholic a winning jolt
Jennifer Giesey is partly responsible for the gold-colored banner with brown trim that hangs from Carmel Catholic's gym. It commemorates the softball team's fourth-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament last year.
Wednesday night in that gym, she did what she did frequently last spring as the Corsairs' leadoff hitter -- hit shots and provide energy.
Giesey came off the bench in the second half and was a factor at both ends of the court, as Carmel pulled away from Joliet Catholic Academy to win 45-21 in an East Suburban Catholic Conference game that was the Corsairs' regular-season finale.
"I think we just needed a spark, and we needed to get things going," Giesey said. "Once we did, we just rallied."
Carmel trailed 15-12 with more than two minutes gone in the second half, when Giesey sank a left-wing jumper with a foot on the 3-point arc. Just 33 seconds later, she drained a 3-pointer from almost the same spot to give Carmel the lead at 17-15 with 4:50 left. The Corsairs closed the third with a 15-2 run and then scored the first 9 points of the fourth to stretch their advantage to 36-17.
Bound for Winona State University, where she'll play softball, Giesey finished with 5 points (she had the game's only 3), 6 steals and 5 assists.
"She played really, really well," Carmel coach Kelly Perz said. "All season she's been Steady Eddie. She's a senior and she plays like a senior. We needed that tonight, because I felt that once she hit those couple of shots, all of a sudden we remembered, 'Hey, we can hit layups. We can finish around the rim.' "
Sophomore Caitlin Teehan also provided a lift for Carmel, scoring a season- and game-high 13 points, all in the second half. She was playing on the JV team when she got promoted to the varsity early last month. Her play against St. Viator essentially convinced Perz that she was up to stay.
Teehan, a 5-foot-4 guard, scored 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a 3-point play, in helping the Corsairs pull away in the final quarter.
"It was pretty nice," said Teehan, who started the game. "I got into my flow and just started making some points."
Carmel, which lost 20 games in each of the last two seasons, will head into the postseason with a 17-11 record after finishing 3-4 in the ESCC. The Corsairs, who are seeded third in the Class 3A Johnsburg sectional complex, next play on Tuesday at Chicago Northside against the winner of Monday's play-in game between No. 14 Ridgewood and 19 North Chicago.
"We've been pushing the ball up a lot (this season), and chemistry has been there more," Giesey said. "We're hustling on every play on defense, and I think that's helped a lot."
What's also aided the Corsairs this season has been the play of their young players. Freshman Katie Lach (4 points, 3 steals), freshman Ranya Jamison (7 points, 3 steals), sophomore Shai Horton (4 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) and Teehan (3 steals) have all flashed athleticism.
"It's a lot faster and you just have to adjust," Teehan said of varsity ball. "But it's fun."
Carmel was coming off a 2-point home win over Deerfield on senior night Tuesday. The Corsairs shot just 4 of 22 from the floor in the first half against Joliet Catholic (0-7 ESCC), yet led 12-9 at the break. Jamison's steal and layup snapped a 9-9 tie with 30 seconds left.
"I don't think we were prepared mentally before the game to play," Perz said after her Corsairs won their third in a row. "It was a great night (Tuesday). It was a lot of fun."
It's been a fun season for the Corsairs.