Leyden rolls past Round Lake
There's a different attitude and more confidence starting the season for Leyden's girls basketball team and it showed it in its opening game.
Yaritza Frias, in her third year on varsity as a junior, led the way for the Eagles with 13 points and Evelyn Abundes added 12 as Leyden outdistanced Round Lake 50-20 in the opener of the Maine East Girls Thanksgiving Tournament in Park Ridge on Tuesday night.
"I thought we were more unified than we expected," Frias said. "We came out stronger and were more aggressive especially on our press. We were also quick on our transition. That really helped on our layups."
The Eagles took advantage with their pressure and intensity, forcing Round Lake into numerous turnovers off the opening tip and throughout the opening quarter. Leyden scored the first 19 points before the Panthers got on the board with a free throw. The Eagles held a 21-1 lead after the first eight minutes.
"I thought the team adapted more to the speed," Frias said. "I feel our aggressiveness helped and there wasn't a lot of pressure. We just had to play as hard as possible. It helped that we knew that we had our teammates by our sides, knowing that they would be there when we needed them."
Leyden kept its momentum going throughout the second quarter and held a 30-5 advantage by halftime.
"Honestly, we weren't sure how we were going to come out," Leyden coach Stephanie Kuzmanic said. "We have a lot of newcomers on this team. We really have just two varsity returners that had minutes last year. I really was unsure, but everybody stepped up. I thought they played really well and played team ball. The chemistry was working really well. For us, our goal is to come out with more energy and communicate on defense. We knew if we attacked first and be more aggressive, it would make (Round Lake) take a step back. Putting pressure was a good call for us."
Round Lake started its season without starting sophomore guard Taylor Major, who's out until at least January recovering from ACL surgery.
But the Panthers also lost a number of players to graduation.
Karla Marin and Lilli Burton led the Panthers with 6 points apiece.
"It wasn't quite what we were expecting," Round Lake coach Molly Hennig said. "We kind of got off to a slow start and (Leyden) came out with the intensity that we didn't bring. I thought we improved a lot in the second half, after we talked about it at halftime, which was good to see. I thought there was a lot of nervousness and the fact that they came out with the intensity. It's hard to come back and overcome what happened early on."
Round Lake returns to play against Glenbrook North on Thursday night at 6 p.m. and Leyden takes on Zion-Benton at 7:30 p.m. back at Maine East.