St. Charles East tops Waubonsie in home opener
The offense will perhaps soon come for Cali Papez, but in the meantime, her rebound output can fill the stat sheet in a hurry.
Papez, the St. Charles East senior, grabbed 10 rebounds in her team's home-opening, 46-39 victory over Waubonsie Valley on Tuesday.
"She's always going to grab 10 rebounds a game for us," Saints coach Michael Murphy said of Papez. "She is one of our hardest workers, if not our hardest worker. She's made tremendous improvements since last season.
"She hasn't played her best basketball the last couple of games, but we're confident that she's going to bounce back and play well on Saturday against Lake Park."
The 6-foot, 2-inch Papez, for her part, values her role as a rebounder.
"I think my offensive role is increasing this season from last season, and that's something I'm continuing to work on at practice to become an offensive threat for our team," Papez said.
Not surprisingly, the Saints focus a lot in practice on defensive drills.
"We'll do two-on-two [drills] just to help increase our ability to move our feet," Papez said.
St. Charles East (6-0) was led by Torrie Kortan's 17 points and five rebounds. Alexis Maridis followed with 11 points and five boards, while Lexi DiOrio had 10 points and six rebounds.
The Saints shot 6 of 27 in the first half, as both teams limped into the halftime break with bleak field-goal percentages. Waubonsie Valley (5-1) fared slightly better at 6 of 22, but only maintained an 18-17 advantage.
"[Shot selection] was something we talked a lot about in the first half. We spend a lot of time practicing our shooting. We value 3-point shooting. They weren't falling, so we were trying to encourage them to take a different shot," Murphy said.
"But, they really trusted themselves. Some of these kids that were shooting the 3s, they've shot thousands and thousands of 3s in this gym since last season. So they had confidence, and they kept firing them. And you hope they go in."
Kortan, who had just three points at the half, broke out of her slump for 14 points in the third quarter. Kortan, the four-year starter, was key in a sequence where she had three layups to push the Saints' lead to 10 with 2:56 left in the third quarter.
"It wasn't our night. I think to start the third quarter we got three layups," Murphy continued. "I think [Waubonsie Valley coach Brett Love] called a quick timeout, and we pointed out: We scored nine points. We did make a 3, but three of our four baskets were point-blank layups, and that's something we were encouraging them to do."
"We live and die by the 3; that's kind of what we do ..." Kortan said on the offensive woes. "We were kind of reverting back to shooting layups or whatever, and that got us going. I think that's what pulled it out [for] the game [in our favor], because our three top shooters [DiOrio, Maridis and I], we shot horrible. We couldn't have a worse night of all three of us shooting. It just so happened it was at our home opener, but I think it may have been the jitters."
The Warriors were led by Taylor Curry's 12 points and four rebounds, while Hannah Laub had 11 points and six rebounds. Amari Banks had seven points.
"[St. Charles East is] a good, aggressive team," Love said. "They move well; they're disciplined. Defensively, they're all over the place, and we have to do a better job of moving. Moving the ball, looking for more opportunities, getting each other open and things like that.
"We did scout. We did look at what they were doing, so we knew we what we were coming into. We've just got to do a better job of executing."