Pape's 31 leads Maine South to CSL championship over Deerfield
All season long, Emily Pape has been racking up awards and putting up prodigious numbers.
Thus, it's not surprising that the Maine South senior forward showed a flair for the dramatic in her final regular season home game on Thursday.
Pape added to her growing legacy, scoring a game-high 31 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to spark Maine South to a 72-65 win over Deerfield in the Central Suburban League championship game in Park Ridge.
The Hawks (20-8) avenged a regular season one-point loss at home to the Warriors (23-5) in grand fashion. Ava Blagojevich scored 11 points and Meegan Fahy had 10 points for the Hawks.
Lexi Kerstein paced the Warriors with 17 points and 5 assists, Aubrey Galvan totaled 16 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals and Nikki Kerstein chipped in with 15 points, 8 rebound and 6 steals. Olivia Kerndt added 11 points for the Warriors.
Pape, a Cornell recruit and the Central Suburban League South Player of the Year, was honored midway through the third quarter for becoming just the third player in program history to reach the 500-point mark in a single season dating back to 1972-73.
Pape, who broke the program's 31-year-old single-game scoring record with 41 points against Willowbrook on Jan. 26, scored 23 points in the second half to help ward off a furious rally by Deerfield that cut a 17-point deficit down to two points in the final minutes.
"Going into the game, I thought my shot was a little off and it was a slow start for me," Pape said. "But the other players contributed well. At one point, I was like I really wanted to win this game. We've come so far, and Deerfield is a really good team. I wanted to be strong and get to the basket, which helped me a lot this game."
Pape secured the win in typical Pape fashion, corralling three key rebounds, blocking a shot and scoring six points in the final two minutes.
"This game means so much, especially after not having a full season last year," Maine South Jeff Hamann said. "Emily has come a long way. She's worked really, really hard on her game and earned all the accolades that she's gotten. This season has been absolutely fabulous on her end. Emily wasn't scoring early on tonight, and that's fine because we have other options, but she played great in the second half."
At halftime, Deerfield stuck to its season-long agenda by not seeking the shelter of a locker room, but instead of shooting baskets for most -- if not, all -- of halftime, the Warriors sat in their individual seats and watched Maine South's cheerleading team before a lengthy routine.
After the routine, the Warriors gathered together to shoot for a few minutes, but hit another problem when a group of basketballs became lodged in the net.
The odd scene was a microcosm of the conference title game, with the better half of the first quarter turning into a deluge of turnovers, then the second quarter into a surge of points for each team.
The Hawks' strong start was an ominous sign for the Warriors, mainly because Pape was held scoreless for 10-plus minutes yet the hosts led 23-13. Pape scored her first basket at the 5:10 mark, which led to an awakening of her game. She closed out the half with eight points to give the Hawks a 36-28 lead. Pape carried over late push in the first half into a flurry of points that carried the Hawks to a milestone victory.
"I knew I had to step up in the second half," Pape said. "I had that slow start, but went into halftime and knew I had to get the rebounds. I had a mental shift and went as hard as I could, and it worked out."
The Warriors nearly completed an epic comeback, thanks to a late push by Lexi Kerstein, the CSL North Player of the Year, but Pape came up big to secure the win.
"She's a great player," Deerfield coach Nicole Keith said of Pape. "We couldn't stop her inside."