Aurora Christian pulls away from Timothy Christian late
There was a sense of urgency early in the fourth quarter of Aurora Christian's Metro Suburban Red game against Timothy Christian on Monday.
Freshman Niallie Evans could feel it, so she made a big play.
Evans snatched the basketball free from a Timothy Christian player and rolled in a layup, and then followed it up with a 3-pointer 18 seconds later to give the Eagles the lead for good.
The spark inspired the Eagles, who broke the game wide open late in a 56-43 victory in Aurora.
"My instincts kicked in to grab it and score," she said. "My first half shots weren't falling, but I knew not to stop shooting. I knew one would go down and once one went down, others would go down."
With Virginia commit Anna Griffin (6 points) struggling with foul trouble throughout the evening, the Eagles really needed offense, and got it.
"I'm blessed to have so much talent, and so much young talent because Anna is the only senior in the program," Eagles coach Burney Wilkie said. "Niallie is a freshman who steps up huge in the second half, retakes the lead for us and comes down and hits a three on the next possession, and Lexi (Lamanna) does so much for us. She's the best passer I've ever coached. She sees the floor so well and is so unselfish. The girls played great tonight."
Aurora Christian (9-1) led by 10 late in the first half, but Timothy Christian (9-2) closed the half on a 7-0 run and fought back to tie the game at 26-26 on Sureya Alex's 3-pointer.
She led the Trojans with 16 points while Hannah Schuringa had 12 and Grace Roland chipped in with 9 points and 8 rebounds.
"(Sureya's) our floor general and she played a really good game tonight," Trojans coach Jill Groenewold. "I was very proud of her efforts. She had a lot of good plays, a lot of good patience and controlled the tempo of our offense really well."
Hanging on to a 42-41 lead with just under five minutes remaining, Aurora Christian scored the next 14 points and would've ended the game on a 14-0 run, but Schuringa buried a jumper as the buzzer sounded.
"It was a one-point game going into the fourth quarter so they wanted it more than we did," Groenewold said. "I quite honestly don't think we recognized some situations that we needed to and I think they hit a few more outside shots than we did, and we shot ourselves in the foot with some turnovers we normally don't have."
Evans and Ashley Weeks led the Eagles with 15 points apiece. Evans turned it on after halftime with 12 of her 15 points while Lamanna added 10 points and delivered several pretty passes that set up her fellow Eagles for quick success.
"All of my teammates know where they have to go," Lamanna said. "They have great IQs so they know when they're open to take advantage of it and it makes my job easier to pass to someone who knows when they're going to go."
Just like Griffin spotted Thaya Luse for a gorgeous no-look pass for an easy basket and a 50-41 lead with 1:32 left to play.
"When it comes down to it, I know people look for me for the shot," Griffin said. "But I felt like in that time it was my turn to look for them and make sure they get the basket. If somebody is as wide open as (Luse) was, do the no-look and give it to her."
Luse, who had an eight-game double-double streak broken during Saturday's tough loss at Riverside-Brookfield, snagged 12 rebounds and scored 8 points.