Downers Grove North's defense frustrates Yorkville

Updated 11/18/2021 10:25 PM

Downers Grove North had the halftime lead, but wasn't content.

The Trojans girls basketball team walked into the locker room and knew its defense effort needed to improve.


Coming out of the break, there was a noticeable difference.

Downers Grove North did not allow its first field goal of the third quarter until the final minute as it built on its halftime lead in a 46-27 victory over Yorkville as part of the 32nd Annual Schaumburg Lady Saxons Thanksgiving Classic.

The Trojans (3-0) allowed just three made field goal attempts in the second half and forced 12 of Yorkville's 19 turnovers after the break. In fact, Yorkville (0-2) only attempted nine shots to its 12 mishaps in the final 16 minutes.

"I think we just did what we could to take sure they weren't comfortable with the ball," said senior guard Kate Gross, who led Downers Grove North with 13 points. "We pride ourselves on our defense. I thought our ball pressure and our rotations allowed us to get a lot of turnovers and was the difference tonight."

Downers Grove North held Yorkville to just 31% shooting (8-for-26) for the game, while it also cleaned up things on the offensive end after halftime.

After taking an 11-4 advantage after the first quarter, the Trojans committed seven turnovers of their own to allow Yorkville to get within five points, 17-12, at halftime.

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Trojans coach Stephan Bolt thought his team relaxed a little bit on the defensive end after a strong first quarter, but his message of increased defensive intensity made its mark.

"I think [Yorkville] caught us off guard a little bit, we relaxed, and we weren't all on the same page at times," Bolt said of his team's second quarter defense. "I thought we came out in the third quarter and didn't relax. It was all five [players] playing defense together. We expect to get better [defensively] each time we step out there and I think we've done that through three games here."

A 17-12 halftime lead ballooned to a 16-point advantage after the Trojans started the third quarter on a 12-1 run. It wasn't until Yorkville freshman Lainey Gussman 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the third quarter that the Foxes saw a ball in the run of play go through the basket.

Foxes coach Kim Wensits gave credit to Downers Grove North, saying it's a tough team to play with little time to prepare.

"That's a very solid team over there," Wensits said. "They have some veteran players over there and we're very young. I think we battled well in the first half, but I think ultimately their ball pressure really got to us. We had some spurts that show you what we're capable of, but now it's about keeping those going for longer and growing."


Kenzie Phillips led Yorkville with eight points and four rebounds.

Along with the ball pressure from Gross and her fellow guards, Bolt said he thinks the effort of Eleanor Harris and her 6-foot-1 frame makes a huge difference on the defensive end.

While the senior forward finished with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting Thursday night, Bolt said she contributes so much more that doesn't show up in the box score.

"The way we play allows any girl to be successful in our system," Bolt said. "Eleanor has been a beast defensively. Some things she does don't always get talked about or show up on the stat sheets, but things like altering shots, rotating defensively and rebounding the ball with her length. It makes it tough on the interior for teams."

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