Lyons Twp. slips past Downers Grove North
Lyons Township senior Hailey Markworth should have been exhausted and could have been frustrated by the final minute Friday against Downers Grove North.
Luckily for the Lions, Markworth remained assertive.
Markworth delivered two clutch baskets in the final 45.8 seconds, including a three-point play with 7.6 seconds left that lifted the Lions to a 31-29 victory in a matchup of West Suburban Silver leaders.
"We needed to score so I just thought I had to find some confidence. Even though (some shots) didn't fall before, I had the confidence they would fall again," said Markworth, who had a game-high 14 points while playing the entire 32 minutes. "Conference is a really big goal of ours and we definitely want to take it. It's a huge goal. It's our first step before having the goal of going far in the playoffs."
LT (11-1, 5-0), Downers North (11-2, 4-1) and York shared last year's Silver title in the abbreviated 2020-21 season. The Lions and Trojans both won their first meetings with the Dukes.
With tenacious man-to-man defense from both sides and the Trojans' ball-control style, possessions were at a premium.
"This (game-winner for me) was definitely exciting," Markworth said. "We did pretty much the same two plays in a row, just setting a screen at the top of the key and working off of it."
After Markworth's three-point play, the Trojans went downcourt without a timeout. Senior Ryann Wendt took a pass from senior Kate Gross, but Wendt's probable game-winning 3-pointer from left of the key caromed off the side of the rim.
"I trust our players to manufacture a play when we need it. I thought we got a great look and we just missed it," Downers North coach Stephan Bolt said. "They're a great team. It was a lot of fun. They had a couple of kids that made great plays at the end. I thought our kids did too. Back and forth at the end of the game. That's the way it's supposed to be in a good conference matchup."
The Lions led from early in the second quarter until the Trojans' Margaret Fleming nailed the game's only 3-pointer for a 26-26 tie with 2:20 left. Wendt made one of two free throws for a 27-26 Downers North lead with 1:01 to go.
Markworth's first responded to put LT ahead 28-27. The Trojans went back in front when Gross scored from left of the lane with 24.2 seconds remaining.
LT led 14-10 at halftime with 8 points from Markworth. Before her two clutch baskets, the Winona State recruit missed seven straight field-goal attempts, including one with about 1:30 left.
"(Markworth) comes down again and to have that composure with seven seconds and take a very similar shot -- and be confident enough to make it. That's what you want out of a kid. That's next level," LT coach Meghan Hutchens said. "I think both of us play really good defense and have really tough kids that have been on varsity three or four years. They gave us a very challenging game and they cut it really close at the end. We haven't really had that. I'm really proud of our girls to keep their composure, finish the game. And to finish on the winning side is always a plus."
LT junior Ally Cesarini added 12 rebounds and 6 points.
Hutchens was pleased with her team's focused patience against the Trojans' ball-control offense. Limited to 44 possessions, the Lions had just seven turnovers after committing three on their first four possessions. The Lions also turned seven steals -- four by junior Ella Ormsby -- into roughly four important transition baskets. In the second quarter Ormsby and Markworth fed each other for buckets on back-to-back steals for a 12-6 lead.
"I think we all worked really hard on defense and Hailey ran the floor really nicely so it was pretty easy to get her the ball," Ormsby said. "It feels great. We're all very proud of ourselves for this win."