Koulogeorgas picks up Addison Trail in victory
As one of three returning starters and only two seniors on the Addison Trail girls basketball team, guard Demi Koulogeorgas takes her leadership role seriously.
"It just makes me want to be myself, be a bigger leader, and I've got pick everyone else up when they're down," Koulogeorgas said. "It's my responsibility to keep everyone together. I'm the glue of the team."
At halftime Monday Koulogeorgas took it upon herself to handle a sticky defensive situation. The tireless effort helped the Blazers pull out a 50-38 nonconference victory at West Chicago.
While Koulogeorgas' 13 points shared top scoring honors for the Blazers (4-5) with sophomore guard Quiana Birmingham, the senior was more valuable with her second-half man-to-man coverage against West Chicago standout junior guard Shailee Patel, who had 22 points but only 5 after halftime.
The Blazers' balanced attack also included 11 points from junior Mia Johnson and 8 by sophomore Mary Velez to overcome a 24-23 halftime deficit.
"We have a lot of people that are good at different things. We make an all-around good team," Koulogeorgas said. "We just needed someone to pick (Patel) up and stop her. I said I could do it if I put my heart to it and I did it."
"We knew (Patel) was their engine. As she went, their team went," first-year Addison Trail coach Cory Little said.
"(Koulogeorgas) wanted to take the initiative as a senior to shut down (Patel) and she did a great job with her in the second half. And then we just tried to push the ball more, try to get more transition shots, try to get to the basket more."
Offensively, Koulogeorgas also found her groove in the third quarter. Her second and third 3s of the game and Birmingham's first contributed to a 38-33 advantage entering the final quarter.
Velez' inside basket and Birmingham's fastbreak basket and 3 opened a 46-35 margin with 5:13 left.
Birmingham had 10 second-half points after taking just two shots in the first half.
"I was upset with myself, not shooting as much as I should have," Birmingham said. "Come the second half I took those opportunities. I knew had to create some as well. My teammates did a good job of creating those as well."
Patel had three first-half 3s for the Wildcats (2-5), including the game's most dramatic basket. Taking an inbounds pass near midcourt, Patel dribbled quickly along the left side of the court and unleashed a distant 3 with her body twisted and two defenders on her that banked in and beat the first-quarter buzzer.
"What a player. She does that all of the time," first-year West Chicago coach Mark Fitzgerald said. "She's averaging, like, 19 a game. She's a special player, never quits."
The Blazers feel the same about Koulogeorgas. Birmingham and Johnson, who had 8 first-half points and a team-best 9 rebounds, also are returning starters.
"(Koulogeorgas) helps a lot. She's a huge leader," Birmingham said. "She tells it to us straight. She sits us down, tells us what it is and what it ain't and she really just demonstrates verbally and physically on the court what to do and how to keep our heads up."
All but 3 West Chicago points came from Patel or junior Sadie Obenauer and freshman Emily Toran, who had 7 and 6 points, respectively. Toran added 9 rebounds.
"We have to play our first five an awful lot and I think the fatigue set in (the second half)," Fitzgerald said.
"This program had only one win last year. They're learning how to win. There's no victory in losing, but I'm proud of the effort. And they're getting better."