Elgin girls basketball team of 1996 made practice pay off
Editor's note: Below is an edited version of the Elgin girls basketball team's win over Marshall in the Class AA state quarterfinals of 1996.
NORMAL -- They say practice makes perfect and Elgin proved it on Friday, March 1, 1996.
Handling Chicago Marshall's vaunted press with relative ease early on, Elgin broke out to a 20-11 first quarter lead and used that as a catapult to a 61-52 win in the state Class AA quarterfinals at Redbird Arena.
The win puts the No. 2 Maroons (30-1) in the state semifinals against undefeated Morris. The Maroons went on to defeat Morris before losing to Stevenson in the state championship game.
"We knew (Marshall) gets a lot of their points off the press," said Elgin all-state guard Melissa Parker, who had a game-high 21 points as well as 8 assists and 10 rebounds. ''It was a good feeling to get out there and break the press and get the ball up the floor."
The Maroons may have had some early butterflies in their first Elite Eight appearance but it didn't show.
All-state center Leslie Schock (18 points, 9 rebounds) scored off a Parker feed, Parker hit a jumper off an inbounds pass from Schock and followed up with a 3-pointer and the Maroons had a 7-0 lead before the large contingent of Elgin fans could get comfortable in their seats.
"Jumping out early like that let us relax a little and slow down," said Elgin coach Lee Turek. "We came out with a lot of poise and defensively we did a real nice job of stopping Marshall's penetration."
Much of that defense came from junior standout Tina Wenckaitis. Matched up against Marshall's leading scorer, sophomore Sabrina Minter, Wenckaitis was never better. Minter failed to score in the first half and had only 3 shots.
Marshall (24-6) did nothing to help its own cause. The Commandos shot a horrific 25 percent (10 of 39) in the first half and 30 percent (22 of 74) for the game. They were 3 of 21 from 3-point range. Elgin, meanwhile, did a nice job on shot selection and was 13 of 24 (54 percent) in each half.
"We were too concerned with shooting 3-pointers," said Marshall coach Dorothy Gaters, who brought her 17th team to the state tournament in 20 years. "Elgin was very prepared for what we wanted to do. Parker played an outstanding game."