It's four-straight CSL North titles for Maine West
On the day before the Maine West girls basketball was scheduled play on live television, the Warriors provided a scene that could have been taken right out of the movies.
Unable to play on her Senior Night because of a sprained ankle, Warriors starter Lena Albo was given one chance to score a bucket at the start of Friday night's Central Suburban North game against visiting Deerfield.
Taking the floor with her ankle heavily protected, Albo took a pass from Dylan Van Fleet and hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to bring the big crowd to its feet.
Warriors coach Kim de Marigny immediately called a timeout and Albo left the floor to a standing ovation.
The Warriors went on to a 60-29 triumph to complete a fourth straight unbeaten Central Suburban League North campaign.
Next up for West (24-3, 10-0) is a visit from Fremd (22-7) in a game to be televised live by CN100 (Comcast) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
McDonald's All-American Angela Dugalic will head into the nonconference showdown as a member of Maine West's 1,000-rebound club.
To go along with her game-high 25 points, Dugalic grabbed 9 rebounds. That put her at 1,002 for her career in which she went 40-0 in conference games.
The 6-foot-4 Oregon-bound Dugalic tapped the game's opening tip to Van Fleet, who made the pass to Albo for her dramatic 3-pointer.
"I started crying," Dugalic said. "It was just like an emotional point. At first, I just wanted her to shoot it. Then when she made it, that was even better."
"We had it set up that she could get a shot either on the first possession or second," de Marigny said. "And it worked out perfectly that she got it on first possession so we could call a time out and get her out of the game right away.
"She sprained the ankle last Friday night and they've (trainers) been working with her even since. The training staff is amazing here."
Albo was grateful to de Marigny.
"I'm really lucky that coach D put me in for 30 seconds," Albo said. "It was the best Senior Night ever. Our plan was to run a play where I would come off a screen. So this worked out even better."
"It was awesome," said Van Fleet, who had 16 points, 7 assists and 5 steals. "We had it planned out a little different but if it works out, that's perfect."
Melissa Gomez, the Warriors' other senior, collected 4 points with 1 steal.
"These seniors have been here for four years," de Marigny said. "They're getting ready to move on. So we wanted to see them finish well in the regular conference season."
The Warriors didn't waste any time, jumping ahead 19-2. Jane Rothweiler hit 2 free throws after Albo's 3-pointer. Van Fleet then scored 7 of West's next 9 points.
de Marigny hopes to have Albo back next week.
The Warriors, champs of the CSL North, face South champion Evanston for the conference title on Wednesday in Evanston.
Junior Brianna Hernandez added 7 points for West while freshman Jacyln Riedl had 5 points (including a 3-point play in the second quarter) and 3 rebounds.
Junior guard Demi Friedman led Deerfield (18-10, 7-3) with 18 points while freshman guard Lexi Kerstein added 6.