Energetic Palatine impresses against Buffalo Grove
Bill LePage, who is retiring after a 33-year career of coaching and teaching, is beginning his second season as Palatine's girls basketball coach.
Prior to the season, he said his final group of players is special because of the chemistry and energy they bring every day to school and practice.
They sure showed that energy on the court in Monday's season opener at Buffalo Grove.
The Pirates got off to a quick start and never looked back in a 54-31 nonconference win.
"It's going to be a special season for our coach," said 5-foot-11 senior forward Megan Van Brunt, who registered a career-high 21 points. "We were ready for this game. Two weeks of practice and we were all ramped up and ready to get on the floor."
In all, eight girls scored for the Pirates.
"They showed a lot of energy," LePage said. "They come focused and they're ready every day. Usually your first game depends on what you do in the summer and these girls worked hard and did everything we asked them to do and it carried over."
After Palatine's Megan Van Brunt and BG's Ellie Askew traded buckets to start the game, Palatine went on a 7-2 run.
The Pirates got a 3-point play (assist to Frankie Henderson) and 2 more free throws from sophomore Molly Pieper (7 points), a layup by Payton Westphal (assist to Van Brunt) and 2 free throws by Van Brunt for an 11-2 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter.
The Bison closed within 13-6 but a 3-pointer by Van Brunt gave the visitors their biggest lead of the quarter at 16-6.
A driving layup by Megan Kim (8 points) with five seconds left gave Palatine an 18-10 cushion after one period.
Another big drive to the basket by Henderson (5 points) put the Pirates ahead 22-13.
Palatine finished the half with a flourish, getting 2 free throws from Elise Martino, a big half-circle drive layup by Van Brunt and a fastbreak layup by Kim with five seconds left to lead 32-14 at intermission.
The Pirates carried the momentum into the third quarter.
Junior Lexi Sabado snapped a pass inside to Kim for a short layup. Sabado followed moments later with a rebound and 6-footer from the baseline for a 36-14 lead. A 6-footer by Van Brunt and a 3-pointer by Westphal (5 points) made it 41-16 with 4:53 left in the third quarter.
Martino's drive along the baseline for a short jumper started the running clock with under two minutes left in the third quarter.
Junior Callie O'Connell also had a bucket for the winners.
"We got a lot of kids into the game tonight," LePage said. "And they were contributing off the bench so it was good."
Senior Olivia Genther led BG with 8 points, followed by Hanna Glanz (7) and Demi Antonopulous (5).
"It was back and forth early and eventually it just got away from us," said BG Martha Kelly who is just 1 win away from 100 for her eight-year career. "They were finishing on their layups and we were not. I think they just did a better job on the boards. Offensively, we had too many turnovers.
"I'll just notch it up to first-game jitters and hopefully we'll get better from here."