Girls basketball: Meadows too much for Miloucheva, Wheeling
Thursday marked the end of the first round of girls basketball divisional play in the Mid-Suburban League.
Rolling Meadows faced off against Wheeling. The Mustangs were trying to stay a game behind Prospect and two games behind Hersey in the MSL East.
Using a combination of height, speed and a strong interior defense, the Mustangs got a 55-27 decision to earn their 12th win of the season, which moved them to 3-2 in the East.
"Wheeling's improved. They did some things that made us uncomfortable and we didn't get to exploit some of our strengths from the start of the game," Meadows head coach Ryan Kirkorsky said.
"Once we were able to go inside-outside a little bit more some good things happened for us."
Those good things that Kirkorsky spoke of began to fall in place for the visitors (12-7, 3-2) after a Marlena Miloucheva three-pointer brought the home team within 17-10 of the Mustangs with 7:04 left in the opening half.
Meadows outscored the Wildcats 13-4, behind 4 points each from senior forward Charlotte Errico and 6-4 freshman center Dalia Grandberry.
Junior forward Olivia Zielinski topped off the first half scoring with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Meadows a 30-14 advantage at the break.
Wheeling (5-18, 0-5) would get no closer than 14 points after an 18-footer by Miloucheva (game-high 19 points) with 5:31 left in the third.
Grandberry, who split team-high scoring honors with Errico (14 points), attributed her squad's success to remaining focused on the defensive end.
Meadows held Wheeling to just 3-17 shooting from the floor, which included a series of counter measures against Miloucheva that included traps and double-teams.
"Our focus the last couple of weeks has mostly been talking on (defense) as well as boxing out, Grandberry said. "So we were able to match up and stay together (on defense) pretty well."
Mustang junior guard Ciara McMahon added 10, including a pair of treys in the winning effort.
For third-year Wheeling head coach Beth Christell, who just two years ago dealt with only eight players in the entire program during the abbreviated six-week winter COVID season, it continues to mark a search for every improvement possible.
"Before this game we had them pick one thing they need to improve upon," Christell said. "Whether it's boxing out, whether it's positioning, whether it's their passes, or whether it's just hustling down the floor. We checked in on them at halftime and we checked on them after the game and I'd say about half the girls met their goal for today. I told them that if they didn't meet their goal, we've got a game tomorrow (at Grayslake Central). We've got another chance for us to get better and compete as a team."