Christian Liberty finishes off undefeated NAC season
The Christian Liberty Academy girls basketball team won the Northeastern Athletic Conference title outright Thursday night with a 59-44 win over Schaumburg Christian in Arlington Heights.
The Chargers also improved to 26-3 overall on the season and, amazingly, their success is coming without a single senior -- and only two juniors -- on the roster.
"When other teams see us," said CLA sophomore Audrey Law, "they think 'oh, a bunch of sophomores, they're young, we can beat them'. Then we come out strong and really throw them off. They start to think that we don't need any seniors."
Law tallied 13 points against the visiting Conquerors while another of the CLA supersophs, Julia Wolke, led the team with 20 points.
"This feels really good," said Wolke of the championship, as the Chargers improved to 8-0 in conference. "Now we've got to keep it up. We didn't underestimate Schaumburg Christian tonight, we knew we needed to come out and play our game."
Summer Reid, the scoring leader in the NAC, put together a stellar effort Thursday with a game-high 31 points, a total that included seven 3-pointers.
"We're a young team, and we're making adjustments," said Conquerors coach LeaRon Reid. "We lost to them (CLA) a couple of weeks ago and we scored only 19 points, but today we came out and showed a lot of effort.
"Christian Liberty is a really good, solid team and they're extremely well-coached."
CLA, which won its 25th straight game, led 19-10 after one period, then a quick flurry of scoring to begin the second helped put the game, for all intents and purposes, out of reach.
First Law had a 3-point play, then she sank a layup after a great feed from teammate Megan Ng.
Moments later, Law had the assist on layup by Christine Seon, and just like that the Chargers led 26-13.
Seon is one of the 'elder-statesman' -- that is, one of the two juniors -- on the squad.
"The girls on this team are so talented," said Seon. "Being a junior, I feel that my role is help encourage my teammates and guide them if they need it. On this team, everyone helps everyone and that's one of our strongest points."
CLA ran out to a 20-point lead in the third after a 3 from Wolke, and extended the advantage after Melissa Castro hit a shot in the paint.
The Chargers led by as much as 25, but a strong fourth quarter from Schaumburg Christian closed the gap as Summer Reid had 2 of her 3s in the stanza.
Castro scored 12 points for CLA, while Hannah Mindak added 10.
Seon had a couple of clutch buckets for the Chargers.
"Two years ago," said Chargers coach Steve Rowland, "I talked to these kids about the process it takes to be a great basketball team. It starts with commitment, and that isn't a word I throw around lightly. It's also about the hard work and all of the hours you need to put in, and these girls do it all. They put in the work and they put in the hours."
The Chargers are the No. 1 seed in their own Class 1A regional next week.
Fremd 58, Conant 28: Fremd tuned up for its television appearance with a 58-28 triumph over visiting Conant on Thursday night.
The Vikings (22-6, 10-0), who will play Maine West on Saturday (6:30 p.m.) in a game to be televised live by CN100, completed their second-straight undefeated Mid-Suburban League West season.
Junior Grace LaBarge scored a game-high 18 points for Fremd, which has won 24 straight games in the West.
Other top scorers for coach Dave Yates' club were Ruthie Montella (9), Ella Burns (8), Olivia Hill (7) and Emily Klaczek (6).
Conant (8-17, 3-7) was paced by Emily Ytsen and Nina Rogers, who each had 6 points.