Pape, Maine South run past Grayslake Central
Three minutes into Saturday's game, Maine South girls basketball coach Jeff Hamann stared in disbelief at a 20-second sequence that had just ended without any points.
The Hawks missed four straight shots -- all within point-blank range -- before watching the ball fumble away out of bounds.
His star player and lone returning starter, Emily Pape, had missed three of the shots, which was a true indicator of the rough start by the Hawks.
Within a few minutes, the Hawks managed to fix their in-game flaws, relying on a big second quarter to cruise to a 47-33 victory over Grayslake Central in the Bison Classic at Buffalo Grove.
Even Pape, a Cornell recruit, admitted she was shocked at the slow start.
"I don't know what happened," Pape said. "I was thrown off by the two fouls in the beginning. I don't know what really happened. I kept going for the rebound, kept going back up but the shot wasn't falling."
Soon enough, Pape was back to playing like her normal self. She was hitting left-handed jumpers, driving to the basket for layups, hitting open teammates for baskets and playing solid defense.
Pape, who averaged 13 points and 5.9 rebounds in her shortened junior season, failed to score in the first quarter, but finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. Meegan Fahy added 10 points and 4 steals for the Hawks (1-1).
"It was not the start we wanted," Hamann said. "We had three seniors with two fouls three minutes into the game. We went deep into our bench. You have to credit those girls for settling us down.
"We have a lot of confidence in our kids, but Emily didn't start the game the way she wanted to. She played well in the second quarter. She's worked a lot on her offhand, able to finish both inside and outside. She's stronger and worked on her body, and it shows."
The 6-foot-1 Pape relied on her guile and athleticism to take over the game against the young Rams (0-2). She scored 4 straight points in two different segments in the second quarter to give the Hawks a 29-14 cushion at halftime. She scored 6 points in a row to open the third quarter.
"During the preseason, I tried to work on my right hand and shooting, primarily my 3-pointers," Pape said. "I'm trying to go to the basket with my right and left and just be more predictable. Everyone knows I like to go to my left."
The Rams struggled finding flow due to a flood of turnovers, mainly caused by missing four players in Saturday's game. The Rams, who dressed eight players compared to 13 for Maine South, sorely missed the steady veteran presence of seniors Piper Gallaher, Courtney Fletcher, Mia Lennartz and Isa Hollenstein.
Freshman forward Madison Hoffmann scored a team-high 12 points, hitting 3 3-pointers to lead the Rams.
Grayslake Central showed some heart by fighting back from 20-plus point deficit with a surge in the middle of the fourth quarter. Hoffman swished a rainbow 3-pointer from the top of the key to slice the deficit to 47-33 with 3:36 left.
"We were short-handed and we had eight guys today who were healthy and ready to go and played their hearts out," Grayslake Central coach Steve Ikenn said. "I thought they responded and played like champions. They played really well in the fourth quarter."