Rolling Meadows delivers a win over Elk Grove
With Rolling Meadows girls basketball coach Ryan Kirkorsky at Northwest Community Hospital with his wife Sarah, who is expecting their first child, Nick Nichols was in the driver's seat on Tuesday night when the Mustangs hosted Elk Grove.
The veteran Meadows assistant coach quickly credited his passengers for a 56-48 win that put his career record at 1-0.
"I leaned on our seven seniors today" Nichols said. "Without Ryan here, we all had to kind of pick up bits and pieces.
"They know everything inside and out and I relied on them to help tell me what's working and what's not."
A lot was working in the Mustangs' favor in the final five minutes.
Once down 38-23, the Grenadiers came all the way back to within 48-45 when Olivia Masnica hit a driving bank shot that rolled in off the rim with 5:46 left.
But Meadows never let Elk Grove get closer, finishing on an 8-3 run with a 6-foot baseline jumper from Bridget Rolla, a 3-pointer from Madi Niedbala, 2 free throws from Nicole Davis and one from Susannah Holifield.
Niedbala (three 3-pointers) led the Mustangs with 23 points, followed by Rolla (12), Holifield (8), Emily Galvan (7) and Davis (6).
Meadows (12-7, 4-2) stayed within striking distance of Buffalo Grove (6-0) and Hersey (5-1) in the Mid-Suburban East.
Elk Grove was led by senior Megan Murray's 23 points which included four 3-pointers. Alyssa Trausch added 9 points for the Grens (12-8, 2-4).
"We took this game very seriously," said Rolla, the Mustangs' veteran guard who also had some key assists as did Holifield. "We knew Elk Grove is one of the top competitors in the East. They're a tough team which can beat anyone so we were fortunate to pull out the win."
"We've just got to go game-by-game to get back to the spot we want to be in MSL East."
Rolla was just as happy for Nichols.
"He did so well," Rolla said. "This was so much fun.
"And we're so excited for Kirk and his family. He is going to be an amazing dad as he literally is already a second dad to our 14 girls."
Nichols liked the Mustangs' effort. They came back from a 9-4 deficit to lead 18-11 when Galvan closed the first quarter with nice fake and 15-footer from the baseline with 19 seconds left.
"Our kids are battling," Nichols said. "We approach every game trying to go 1-0. Our seven seniors are battle-tested in conference. They've experienced these difficult games. They know every game in the East is a battle and we have to keep our team prepared."
Nichols credited the Grens.
"Your lead is never going to be big enough against them," he said. "Elk Grove is going to battle, scrap and do everything they can. Megan (Murray) is a phenomenal player. We threw everything we could at her but couldn't slow her down. They work hard and are well-coached. It's never going to be easy against them."
Grens coach Jen Buxton couldn't overlook Murray's performance.
"Megan did a great job despite having three people on her most of the game," Buxton said. "She looked for opportunities to score from inside and out. I thought she played real tough so I'm proud of her for that."
Meadows won at Elk Grove 61-52 the first time.
"They're a good team," Buxton said. "You think you're making a run on them and then they knock down a 3. They're a tough team.
"I thought our girls played as tough as they could in the second half. But we have to play better for four quarters and try to beat some of the good teams in the MSL East."