Prospect gets past Meadows
The Wild Wild East.
That's all you can say after Friday night saw four girls basketball teams land in a first-place tie in the six-team Mid-Suburban League East.
Prospect's 48-43 win at Rolling Meadows and Buffalo Grove's 43-40 win over visiting Hersey means that all four teams are now 3-2 after the first round of play.
"The East is up for grabs," said Prospect senior Abbey Danciu, whose driving layup with 2:53 left in the game gave the Knights a 42-38 lead they would never relinquish. "And that's the position we wanted to be in."
After Danciu's big bucket, Jessica Kowalczyk converted 2 free throws to extend the lead to 44-38 with 58 seconds remaining.
But Meadows (15-5) charged back with a rebound layup from Mallory Brand and a steal and 3-point play by Alexa Davis that made it 44-43 with 34 seconds left.
As Prospect (11-5) looked to inbounds, Meadows touched the ball while it was out of bounds in Prospect's possession, leading to a technical foul.
Jessica Kowalczyk made both free throws and moments later her twin Stephanie converted two more free throws for the 48-43 lead with 30.2 seconds.
Jessica Kowalczyk blocked Meadows' 3-point attempt with 11 seconds left and the ball landed in the hands of Abbey Danciu, who was fouled.
"It was a real team effort," Danciu said. "Usually when we keep teams around 40 points, it's a win for us. Our defense always leads to our offense. We played a really great team game tonight."
"Team first, 'me' second," said Knights first-year coach Marie Miller. "That's what we've continued to preach.
It's a very mature concept for high school girls to understand but these girls have stepped up to the challenge and have absolutely mastered it. This was a team win for sure."
You need to look no further than the box score for evidence that.
Sophomore Elliot Dojutrek came off the bench to lead Prospect with 12 points, followed by Ashley Adams (10), Stephanie Kowalczyk (8), Jessica Kowalczyk (8) and Danciu (6), who also pulled down 7 rebounds.
Meadows was led by Davis (11 points), Lily Greifenstein (9) and Susannah Holifield (9).
"It was definitely a painful loss," said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "It just came down to a couple of possessions at the end.
"You have to credit Prospect. They made more plays down the stretch."
Neither team led by more than 6 points.
Meadows took its biggest lead at 20-14 on layup by Samantha Elenz with 6:25 left in the second quarter.
But a 10-0 run by Prospect -- two layups by Dojutrek, putbacks by Danciu and Adams and a layup by Jessica Kowalczyk -- put Prospect in front 24-20 with 3:40 left in the half.
"I thought our defensive level was much better in the second half," Kirkorsky added. "The kids talked more and did a better job on that end. There are ebbs and flows in every game and you have to keep believing. I thought our kids kept believing."
As did the Knights, who travel to Buffalo Grove on Tuesday.
"That was exciting," Miller said. "This was big for us. That's what makes the East division so fun. We really depend a lot on our senior leadership as well as the other 12 people on the bench. We want to make sure everyone is involved and that it's always a team win."