Rolling Meadows is back on top
Rolling Meadows won Mid-Suburban East girls basketball championships in coach Ryan Kirkorsky's first three years as head coach, from 2012 to 2014.
After a two-year absence, the Mustangs are back on top in the East.
The Mustangs raced past visiting Prospect 69-56 on Friday night to finish at 8-2 in the East, the same record as Hersey.
The Huskies will play in the MSL championship game against West champ Palatine on Wednesday due a tiebreaker edge -- Hersey beat Meadows twice in conference matchups.
Not only was the co-championship the fourth title for Kirkorsky at Meadows, it was also the 200th win of his 10-season coaching career, including four years as the head coach at Elk Grove.
"All that means is that I've just been fortunate to coach a lot of great players," Kirkorsky said.
One of them is senior guard Melissa Spiwak, who scored 19 points on Friday with 7 assists and 6 steals.
With Meadows nursing a 34-31 lead at the break, Spiwak's defense helped set the tone in the second half according to Kirkorsky.
"On the first sideline pass from out of bounds when she denied the ball, it kind of set the tone that we were going to compete for two more quarters," Kirkorsky said. "I thought Melissa, as a senior, finished some plays and really just lifted us with intensity level coming out to start second half."
Sophomore Bridget Rolla's driving layup and Spiwak's 8-footer gave Meadows a quick 38-31 lead in the third quarter.
A steal and layup by Stephanie Kowalczyk got Prospect to within 42-41 with 5:18 left but Meadows pulled away again with baskets from Rolla and Spiwak. Alexa Davis' 3-pointer made it 49-43. The Mustangs scored the final 6 points of the period to lead 56-45.
Spiwak's driving 6-footer to open the final period pushed the lead it 58-45.
Senior Emily Frasco's 3-point play got Prospect to within 58-48 but the Knights never got within double digits again.
"It was awesome, just a great team effort and great team win," Spiwak said. "We just picked up our defense. We really got in the gaps more and denied the ball. We pushed we pushed our press and pushed the ball more. That's something 'Kirk' (Kirkorsky) told us to do.
"One of our goals was to win the East and we're so happy we accomplished that. "We stuck together and really used our speed to our advantage. That was our goal -- to keep the game as high-paced as possible."
"They get the ball off the rim, and they're off to the races," said Prospect coach Gabrielle Lovin, whose team is 14-9 and finished third in the East, with 2 losses to Meadows and 1 to Wheeling. "I think we learned a lot here against a great team. They share the ball well, they drive well and they finish strong. I think will help us in the postseason."
Frasco (16 points), Stephanie Kowalczyk (13) and Margherite Pettenuzzo (11) each scored in double figures for Prospect. Ashley Adams and Sara Biesterfeldt chipped in 6 apiece.
"We're right there," Lovin added. "It's the small things -- sharing the basketball, boxing out and closing the gaps defensively."
Rolla contributed 14 points with 14 rebounds for Meadows.
"Bridget is an ultimate competitor as a sophomore," Kirkorsky said. "She is not fazed by anything. I'm incredibly impressed by her maturity and ability to step up in the moment."
Joining Spiwak and Rolla in double figures was Susannah Holifield (13 points, 8 rebounds) and Lily Greifenstein (10 points) while Alexa Davis chipped in 9 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
Caili Hosler had two big buckets in the third quarter when the Mustangs recorded their second straight period of 22 points.
"Obviously there are not a lot of conference championship banners (four) on the wall here, " Kirkorsky said. "That was one of our goals coming into this season. What I'm most impressed by is just the spirit and level of play the kids came back with after a pretty demoralizing loss on Tuesday (at Hersey). There were a lot skills on display tonight from both teams and I thought our kid did a tremendous job."