Maine South beats Evanston to earn CSL South title
It had been 10 years since the Maine South girls basketball team last won the Central Suburban South championship.
Friday night in Park Ridge, the Hawks broke a six-game losing streak to Evanston with a 50-34 decision over the Wildkits.
"Evanston had ended our season the last two years," said Maine South coach Jeff Hamann 'We were looking forward to this game."
Emily Pape and Nicole Gardiner started the Hawks flying in the right direction, helping their team break out to an 8-0 lead.
Gardiner started Maine South's (13-3, 9-0) scoring with a drive to the basket and followed it with a steal and a score.
Pape, who would lead the 11th-ranked Hawks with 18 points and 8 rebounds, converted 2 rebounds into baskets.
"We try to put pressure on teams from the start," said Pape. "By doing that it can lead to turnovers and some scores. They (Evanston) have beaten us six times in a row. We were ready to win this game. It was a good feeling."
The Wildkits (13-5, 8-2) had trouble scoring against Maine South with one of their better players, Roshele Olatunbosun, out with a sprained ankle which will keep her out of Saturday's rematch in Evanston.
Maine South led 23-12 after the first quarter and 29-19 at halftime.
Ellie Oif's basket with 4:53 left in the third quarter cut the Maine South lead to 31-22 but Evanston would get no closer. Lola Lesmond, a junior, led Evanston with 10 points.
A 3-pointer by Nicole Gardiner was followed by 2 baskets from her twin sister Niamh. Nicole Gardiner connected on 2 free throws as the Hawks put the game away after three quarters leading 42-24.
Pape was tough in the lane with her moves to the basket.
"I had some natural development with my shot," said Pape, a crafty lefty. "I've worked with a trainer who helped me go left. It's my strong hand."
Niamh Gardiner had 14 points, including 6 in the first quarter.
"We had a lot of energy to start the game," said Nicole Gardiner. "It was a good way to get things going. We have good chemistry and a good bench to give us all some breathers. We're playing with a lot of confidence."
Hamann was happy with the team's performance and senior leadership.
"This was a great win for our senior group," said Hamann. "Your goal is to win the conference and to win it on your floor. This is a very special group. I give a lot of credit to Niki Manolis, our point guard. Without a summer season, she worked so hard to make herself into a better player. She was able to get the other players the ball. This was Nicole's first game back after a concussion.
"Nicole and Emily gave us the spark that we needed to start the game. We know Evanston is a very good team. They kept it tight on us."