Maine South clinches CSL South title
Senior Night for Maine South's girls basketball team on Friday was an outright success.
That's because the Hawks clinched an outright championship in the Central Suburban South with a 48-39 victory over visiting Glenbrook North.
Coach Jeff Hamann's Hawks (19-8, 9-1) finished one game ahead of Evanston (16-8, 8-2).
Maine South will host North champ Deerfield (24-4, 10-0) on Thursday for the CSL title.
"We won the South outright, and it's one of the best conferences in the state, so we are very proud," said fourth-year coach Hamann, who also led the Hawks to the CSL South crown last year (the program now has 15 conference titles, the first in 1973).
Prior to Friday's game, Hamann and his staff recognized nine seniors (Sydney Purcell, Kate Rachmiel, Katie Brander, Caroline Barker, Emily Pape, Evelyn O'Leary, Margaret Mizwicki, Pasier Lohens and manager Veronica Lasak).
"It was a really emotional night but we knew we had to stay focused," said Pape, a Cornell recruit. "Winning was definitely our top priority but also, of course, having fun and enjoying the night. It was really exciting."
Three-pointers by Katie Brander and Kate Rachmiel helped stake the hosts to an 8-2 lead less than three minutes into the game.
"Our seniors, and five (Brander, Rachmiel, Purcell, O'Leary and Lohens) who typically don't start, came out with an energy that was phenomenal," Hamann said. "They set the tone tonight and we cannot be more proud of a group of girls. That's how it's supposed to be. That's Maine South girls basketball. We have confidence in anyone we put out there."
The Spartans got to within 8-7 on a driving bank shot by Jaden De Guzman. But a pair of 3-pointers by Ava Blagojevich (team-high 14 points) in the final two minutes of the opening quarter gave the Hawks a 16-9 lead into the second quarter.
South led 29-18 at intermission, thanks to Blagojevich's 6-footer on the baseline and a 17-footer from the baseline by Pape (6 points) with 12 seconds left in the half. Hawks freshman Caitlin Leyden had all 6 of her points in the second period.
The Spartans (16-9, 3-7) opened the second half on an 8-0 run (back-to-back 3-pointers by Abby Burnham and De Guzman (6 points) and a 12-foot baseline jumper by Brooke Blumenfeld) to get to within 29-26.
But Hawks sophomore Meegan Fahy (10 points) hit a 3-pointer and Pape scored on a putback to extend the lead to 34-28 with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
A breakaway layup by Bryce Wolf closed the Spartans' deficit to 41-37 but the Hawks answered with a 7-0 run to seal the verdict.
"Credit to Glenbrook North," Hamann said. "They're a very good conference opponent. They are well prepared and well coached. We had the lead at half and they came out and made us nervous. When it was all said and done, we needed to calm down and make some plays. Meegan especially made some big plays in the fourth quarter, and then Ava had a couple of big buckets as well."
Blumenfeld, a Northern Illinois recruit, led GBN with 17 points.