Downers Grove North brightens its present with win at York
With three sophomores in the starting lineup, the future is bright for the Downers Grove North girls basketball team.
So is the present.
Running their winning streak to five games, the Trojans pulled into a tie atop the West Suburban Silver standings with a 37-29 victory over York on Friday in Elmhurst.
"Our young players are awesome," said Ellie Gross, a four-year varsity player and one of only four upperclassmen on the roster. "They play like seniors. In a tough game like that, in a tough environment, usually young players can struggle. But all of our underclassmen do amazing under pressure."
The veteran Gross wasn't too bad herself, scoring a game-high 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, to go along with 6 rebounds.
But it was the youth on the team that closed the game out, scoring all the points for Downers Grove North (16-4, 5-1) in the fourth except for a Gross free throw with one second left.
After the Dukes crept within 29-26 with 2:20 left, sophomore Ryann Wendt and freshman Maggie Fleming answered with baskets before sophomore Kate Gross made a pair of free throws.
"That was a great step forward for us," Ellie Gross said. "We are very happy to move up in the conference standings, but we still have the back half of the (conference schedule). It was great to get a win on the road."
The Trojans jumped out to a 9-4 lead after the opening quarter and extended that margin to 19-11 by halftime. Downers Grove North yielded just four field goals in the first half.
Wendt finished with 7 points.
"I'm really proud of our girls," Downers North coach Stephan Bolt said. "Defensively, I thought we did a great job. We knew we had to do that against a good scoring team like York. They are a very good team and they are tough to defend.
"I've always had a lot of belief in this team. They are definitely doing some impressive things, but they are doing the right things. They have a belief in what we are trying to do."
York (14-4, 5-1), which fell into a first-place tie with the Trojans, was topped by the 10 points of Sydney Molis. The Dukes continue to operate at less than full strength, missing Kaitlyn Kjome and Sophia Schoonveld while Carley Schwartz played limited minutes in her return from injury.
"It was missed opportunities," York coach Brandon Collings said. "When you have two very good teams battling out there, it is about who will take advantage of their opportunities. They took advantage of theirs. They finished around the basket very well.
"Downers is a phenomenal defensive team and when you get your opportunities, you have to take advantage because you won't get many."