'D' dominates as Carmel remains undefeated
Carmel Catholic and Highland Park, a pair of girls basketball teams with 2-0 records in the Mundelein Thanksgiving tournament, tipped off against each other on Wednesday.
A defensive grind saw Carmel emerge as a 29-23 winner.
"Both teams played hard and it was a very aggressive defense," Carmel coach Ben Berg said. "Both teams took the other team out of their offense. We still need to get better on offense, but I'm still proud of the way the girls played."
The teams were playing for the third straight day to start the season.
"Both teams might have been gassed," Berg said. "We made some plays that we had to make at the end. I told the girls, 'If you defend, play hard and stick together, good things can happen.' "
Grace Sullivan scored 4 of her 6 points in the final quarter for the Corsairs, who extended their lead to 26-19 with 4:39 left.
"The fourth quarter, I was just trying to be focused, make my shots and execute the plays," said Sullivan, who also pulled down 10 rebounds. "It was my main goal to make that happen. We really needed those (baskets) in the fourth quarter."
Highland Park rallied late but ran out of time.
"It was a good, competitive game," Highland Park coach Jolie Bechtel said. "It just comes down to a few little things. It was a two-possession game for most of the game and back and forth. We just made some bad decisions running our offense away from the basket."
Highland Park struggled Carmel's height. Sullivan is 6 feet 3, while Corsairs freshman Jordan Wood (3 points on one 3-pointer) stands 6-4.
"It's a little bit intimidating if you're a 5-4 point guard with a 6-foot girl in front of you," Bechtel said. "It's really hard to simulate that in practice. I just think we learned a lot from this experience."
Richmond recruit Addie Budnik led the Giants with 13 points and 7 rebounds, but she had a difficult time finding good looks at the basket.
"It was definitely difficult because in practice nobody on our team is that big," Budnik said. "Going against good competitors like that, we weren't ready for it. (Carmel's) arms are so long. Trying to get a shot or pass over them made things difficult for us."
Katie Lach led the Corsairs with 9 points and 5 steals. Back-to-back steals by Lach to start the second quarter led to a couple of transition layups, putting Carmel ahead for good at 13-9 with 5:04 left.
"It was a close game and we were wrestling for it," Lach said. "We knew we could do something with our defense. I was just anticipating where (the passes) were going. I knew what (Highland Park) was going to do."
Carmel went on to hold a 16-11 lead at the break and was up 22-17 after three quarters.
The Corsairs will next play host Mundelein at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, while the Giants take on Glenbrook South at 6 p.m.