Wagner's double-double helps ICCP down St. Francis

 
By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/10/2019 10:49 PM
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IC College Prep freshman Claire Wagner pulled off a basketball double-double against rival St. Francis on Thursday.

That was only with all she did in the second half.

"I don't really pay attention to that stuff. I just try to play my game," Wagner said.

"That's my job. I have to do something so I try my best and I get down there and offensive rebounds is my thing."

Wagner was elated that her 18 points and 17 rebounds helped the Knights prevail 52-44 in Wheaton and sweep the Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division series.

"It was going to be a tough game for us, but we did what (ICCP coach Kelsey James) said and we were doing the right things," said Wagner, who after halftime had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

"We had to keep our energy and we had to do a lot of help defense. We just had to do our thing. We had to work together and keep everything, the momentum going."

The Knights (8-12, 4-4) also received 9 points from Alia Johnson and 8 from Jaida Smith. Cate Radoha added 8 rebounds.

Sophomore Katelin Chaparro's game-high 24 points led the inspired effort by St. Francis (6-14, 1-5). Madeleine Fasana added 6 points and 9 rebounds and Ashley Sullivan had 7 points.

ICCP continued its recent winning ways and trend of surviving a nail-biter after once leading by double digits.

When Chaparro drilled her lone 3-pointer, the Spartans closed to 43-42 with 2:21 left, but the Knights scored the next 6 points on pairs of free throws by Gia Gaudio, Johnson and Gaudio again.

"We're still adjusting (our lineup), but I think for the most part we like to make the game interesting," James said.

The main reason was because St. Francis coach Sandy De Craene said her team gave among its most energetic efforts. A nice crowd for the annual girls basketball middle school night included a live band that especially challenged James' voice during timeouts.

"As a team effort, I think this was one of our better games, where everybody was filling in the spots and doing the best that they can," De Craene said. "It's nice to have a good crowd like this because when you get the cheering, it really hypes the girls up."

Wagner had 20 points and 7 rebounds when ICCP won the first meeting 49-45 Nov. 29 in Elmhurst.

After once leading 20-10 in the second quarter, the Knights trailed 24-21 at halftime, but Wagner fueled the comeback with 11 straight points for her team in the third quarter, starting with a 3 in the left corner that somehow deflected off the backboard.

"She came up huge. As a freshman you wouldn't guess that she gets this look in her eye and she's ready to go," James said. "She looked over after her first offensive rebound, she looked right at us and was like, I'm ready, and then just continued to go. She wanted it and she wants to win every game. She just has that competitive spirit about her, which we love."

Chaparro's inspired play included 15 points in the second half and 9 in the important second quarter that helped the Spartans overcome a 15-4 first-quarter deficit on 1-for-12 shooting.

Also coming in the second quarter were 11 steals -- 4 each by Chaparro and Fasana.

"The bench, they got us pumped up. I think we were really slow and then something just clicked," Chaparro said.

"The energy is completely different (from the first meeting). We came and worked as a team. We moved the ball faster. We played better defense. The first time we played them we were kind of really sloppy. This was definitely different and definitely an improvement."

ICCP's bench excelled on the floor. Smith, who scored 6 points in the first quarter, received her third foul in the second quarter and her fourth during in the third quarter.

Gaudio's clutch free throws also included 4 rebounds. Jackie Lara also had 4 fourth-quarter points and 7 rebounds.

"We stress that. We want every girl to find a way to contribute and they're finally buying into that and realizing that have that little role (for us)," James said.

Chaparro had a personal-best 27 points in the recent victory over Rosary. The Spartans still are awaiting the return of injured starters Madison Wisted and Emily Dziengel.

"(Chaparro) does a lot of things for us," De Craene said. "She's a very versatile player. She can play up top on the defense or I can put her on the block and play the post. She's a sophomore who is carrying a lot on her shoulders and I commend her for keeping her composure. She's a talented well-grounded individual."

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