Hare hits 1,000 as Bartlett wins battle of UEC unbeatens
Both Bartlett and South Elgin entered their rivalry game Friday night unbeaten in the Upstate Eight Conference, and the Storm could not have drawn up a much better start.
South Elgin hit six 3-pointers in the first quarter and a half, dominated the Hawks on the glass and played lockdown defense on Bartlett's two star players, Lexie Sinclair and Mackenzie Hare.
But Bartlett had the answer.
Trinity Reyes swished a pair of 3-pointers just before halftime, Cierra Thomas provided a spark off the bench, and Danielle Hedeen and Kylie Walker combined for 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Bartlett erased an early 21-9 deficit, taking the lead for good with a 12-0 run in the third quarter on its way to a 56-45 victory and sole possession of the conference lead.
"Other girls stepped up huge," Bartlett coach Joe Eirich said. "Made huge shots. Did the dirty work. Cierra, the energy she brought off the bench, she won us that game."
South Elgin (15-6, 8-1) put Madison Waichunas on Hare and Caroline Croft on Sinclair, face guarding the two with help quick to come if either got free for a second.
It worked early. Hare scored just 3 points in the first half and Sinclair 6, and when Ella Winterhalder buried her third 3-pointer of the first half the Storm led 26-16.
"I'm super proud of the way we came out," Storm coach Dan Mandernack said. "Flying around, playing great defense, rebounding, knocking down shots."
But the Hawks (15-7, 10-0) used an 8-0 run in the final two minutes of the half, starting with a Sinclair spin move and then two 3s from Reyes, to pull within 26-24 at halftime even after getting outrebounded 26-14 and making just 9 of 30 shots.
"That was a big swing," Mandernack said. "We won that first half by more than 2 points but at the end of the day it's 2 points."
The Hawks' full-court pressure bothered the Storm in the third quarter, creating six turnovers as they took the lead for good 31-29 when Hedeen assisted Sinclair for a layup.
Hare grabbed a rebound and took it the length of the court for a score, and Sinclair found Hedeen for a 3-pointer and a 38-29 lead.
"We rely so much on our athleticism and our pressure," Eirich said. "They had a great game plan, but eventually our pressure and effort wore them down. They were tired."
Leading 40-34 going to the fourth quarter, Hare scored on a baseline drive and then sank a deep 3-pointer to make it 45-36. South Elgin never got closer than 8 points down the stretch, hurting itself with four straight missed free throws and a couple layups that spun out.
After her slow start, Hare still finished with a game-high 19 points, and Sinclair had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Hare's final points came with 12 seconds to go at the free-throw line and pushed her over 1,0000 for her career -- becoming the rare player to reach the milestone as a sophomore.
"It's pretty cool," said Hare, who is averaging 20.3 points per game. "I'm thankful for my teammates and coaches, they definitely helped me through this from freshman to sophomore year they have been so welcoming and great."
Raina Yang and Croft scored 10 points for the Storm, Winterhalder and Megan McClure had 9 and Waichunas 7.
McClure also grabbed 16 rebounds. But after hitting those six quick 3s at the start, the Storm made just two more.
South Elgin gets another shot at the Hawks on Feb. 7.
"Their heart and hustle was there the whole time," Mandernack said. "When you lose a big game as a coach I learned a lot about my team. They kept fighting until the end, and it bodes well for the future."