Deiri's 3-pointer lifts Maine West past Maine East
Aya Deiri got her first start of the season on Saturday.
She also got Maine West's last shot -- the game winner.
The 5-foot-4 junior guard took a kick-out pass from classmate Shannon Walsh and promptly drilled the 3-pointer with 10.9 seconds left to lift the Warriors to a dramatic come-from-behind 43-40 triumph in the Central Suburban South girls basketball finale in Des Plaines.
"It's amazing what a little confidence can do for you," said West coach Deanna Kuzmanic about Deiri's first start, in which she scored 9 points.
It was also quite amazing how the Blue Demons (15-11, 5-5) charged back from a 16-9 deficit to close out the first half with a 20-0 run to lead 29-16 at intermission.
"We just had to lock down our defense (in the second half)," said West junior Jaclyn Riedl (6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals), who hit the big game-tying 12-foot bank shot over a pair of defenders with 38 seconds left. "And we had to stay composed on offense. We had to keep looking for other players on the court for open looks."
Walsh did exactly that on West's last possession.
"We were just looking to drive and kick," said Walsh, who had a team-high 12 points and 4 assists. "All of our guards can hit it. In the second half we knew we just had to keep taking shots and not giving up."
The Warriors gave up only 11 points in the final 16 minutes.
"I'm just really proud of our girls' defensive effort in the second half," Kuzmanic said. "Our girls always play hard but we thought our energy was a little down in that first half and we talked about that at half. And they really brought the energy in the second half. They feed off each other a ton. It was a trickle effect and exactly what we needed."
The Warriors needed one final stop after Deiri's big shot. And it was Riedl who blocked Maine East's 3-point shot attempt with four seconds left.
Julia Wolke finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists while Jade Thomas had 6 points and 6 rebounds for West, which just won at East last week 39-31.
Senior center Emina Hanic led East with 20 points while classmates Michelle Piro and Mahima Chokshi each had 7. Bella Crablaes added 6.
Chokshi needed just 1 point to reach 1,000 for her career and she got it with a 3-pointer with 2:05 left in the first quarter. It gave East a 10-9 lead.
"This was her first game since being out of the country for three weeks," said East coach Nicole Rinaldi. "Having her back will be very helpful going into the playoffs. It was a heartbreaking game for us. We had energy, made smart passes, took care of the ball and were finishing in the first, Ultimately, what killed us was some turnovers in the fourth quarter and missed free throws. The girls played hard. It's tough. It's a big rivalry game that the girls are always excited about."
West had 5 3-pointers in the second half, including two apiece from Walsh and Deiri.
"That last one was a huge shot by Aya," Kuzmanic said. "She really stepped up and really a lot of our girls stepped up. (Maine East) did a really nice job on us defensively, but our girls were just stepping up at the plate and doing what was needed at the moment."