South Elgin's pressure rattles Glenbard South
South Elgin girls basketball coach Dan Mandernack said his players like to refer to themselves as hyenas -- "they're fast, they're aggressive and they trap great."
And they are no laughing matter for opponents to deal with, either.
Relying on relentless, ball-hawking pressure defense, the Storm (19-5) collected 23 steals during Tuesday night's 58-29 Upstate Eight Conference victory over visiting Glenbard South (11-11, 8-5).
Senior guard Ella Winterhalder poured in a game-high 19 points with 5 rebounds and 5 steals, while junior guard Caitlyn Tolentino added 14 points, 5 rebounds and 9 steals as South Elgin improved its conference record to 13-0.
"We all have high intensity," said Tolentino. "We all know we're always going to have a target on our backs because we're undefeated in conference, so we always have to keep up our intensity."
Maintaining intensity wasn't a problem for Tolentino, who scored 10 of her points during South Elgin's 19-4 second quarter surge that opened a 36-18 halftime advantage.
Tolentino had 3 steals and layups as well as a pair of driving layups during her team's 14-2 run over the final 6 minutes of the opening half.
"Caitlyn really took over the game for a couple minutes or so there," said Mandernack. "She plays the viper on our presses so she either plays the ball, goes to trap, or waits at halfcourt.
"She's so incredibly fast. She's so incredibly coordinated and athletic, and she wants it. Tonight, she scored a lot of points. That hasn't been the main part of her role."
Senior guard Caroline Croft added 10 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals for the Storm, which led 17-14 after one quarter.
"We have to be the smallest (4A) big school in the state," Mandernack said of his team's starting lineup that included nobody taller than 5-foot-7. "We can't get stuck in the halfcourt, and to their (Raiders) credit, they caught us there early."
Despite getting outrebounded 38-28, South Elgin forced 37 Glenbard South turnovers.
"We have five different presses, and we use at least four every game," said the coach. "We work on them every day because that's the team we've got. We have to be able to do that because we are not going to get free throws and we're not going to get offensive rebounds and putbacks."
Tolentino enjoys playing her team's pressure defense.
"It really fits who I am as a player," said Tolentino. "I have a lot of athleticism. I have a lot of speed, so I like to use it to my advantage on the court."
Senior Brittany Miller led the Raiders with 11 points, including three 3-pointers, and 9 rebounds, while freshman Brooklynn Moore added 10 points.