Maine West survives Evanston in OT -- again
Against all odds.
Just 12 months ago, Maine West's girls basketball team won the Class 4A Evanston sectional in overtime over the host Wildkits.
The same two teams met in Maine West's sectional championship game on Thursday night and you guessed it.
Maine West escaped again -- in overtime.
Following a 40-40 tie in regulation, Warriors All-American Angela Dugalic hit 3 free throws and West led 43-42 when Evanston took possession with 23 seconds left in the extra session.
The 6-foot-4 senior then turned to her defense, coming up with a big blocked shot deep in the corner and knocking it out of bounds with 2.1 seconds left.
Evanston coach Brittanny Johnson took a timeout to set up a final play, and once again Dugalic was one of the West defenders pressuring the ball and forcing the Wildkits to toss up an off-balance shot that didn't get close.
The West fans rushed the floor to celebrate the 43-42 victory that put the defending state champions in the supersectional for the fourth straight year.
The Central Suburban League champions (30-3) will face Mid-Suburban League champion Fremd (27-7) at 7 p.m. on Monday in the Conant supersectional.
Dugalic finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds followed by teammates Dylan Van Fleet (10 points, 3 assists, 2 steals) and freshman Jaclyn Riedl (9 points, 6 rebounds).
"I'm tired of the overtimes," said a smiling Van Fleet, referring to the Warriors' last two sectional title-game wins. "It was a lot of stress. It all came down to Angela's free throws and in the end defense wins. We had to play our hardest out there."
Evanston (24-7) played hard right from get-go, gaining a 6-0 lead.
West nudged ahead for the first time at 14-11 when Jane Rothweiler (7 points) hit a 3-pointer. The junior had two other big buckets in the second half.
"Jane has ice in her veins," said West coach Kim de Marigny, who has now won four sectional titles in her four season as the Warriors' coach. "She is really unemotional most of the time but don't underestimate who she is and what she can do."
de Marigny also got strong minutes from Brianna Hernandez, who spotted point guard Lena Albo, who eventually fouled out.
"Brianna came in and was playing some lock down defense, " de Marigny said.
Two free throws by Riedl gave West a 36-31 lead with 5:06 left.
"She made some big free throws and those little things can make the difference," de Marigny said. "Jaclyn is out there saying 'ok, give me the ball' and she's trying to score. I'm very proud of her and looking for great things from her going forward."
Evanston charged back and grabbed a 38-36 lead when senior Kayla Hennig (game-high 15 points) hit a 3-pointer with 3:40 left.
Two free throws by junior Rashele Olatunbosun tied the game at 40-40.
The Wildkits then got a steal from Ariel Logan with 33 seconds left and called a timeout. But the West defense got the stop when Evanston missed on a 16-footer as time wound down.
Dugalic then stepped up in OT with some big moves to the basket where she got fouled.
"Big-time players can handle big-time pressure," de Marigny said. "I'm very proud of Angela."
"Trust me, I didn't want to be in that position (overtime) with Evanston again," Dugalic said. "But it's OK, as long we win, I'm fine with it."
And West fans were fine with Dugalic serving as a key defender in the game's final seconds.
"I just didn't want them to get a shot off," she said. "I knew if they did take one, I'd have to put a hand up and try to at least alter it. Instead, I ended up blocking that one."
"We knew they had some incredible scorers so we had to put pressure on the ball," de Marigny said. "And who better to put do that than Angela, who has extremely long arms, can jump, block and block out? She does all the things a guard can do despite being 6-foot-4 with the wing span of ten feet."