Alcala leads Glenbard South past East Aurora in gritty effort
Glenbard South junior forward Sofia Alcala kept finding herself in the right place at the right time on Thursday night.
The 5-foot-10 Alcala closed out a memorable game against East Aurora by grabbing an offensive rebound off her own missed free throw with 10.6 seconds left.
Throughout the physical and turnover-filled game between the top two teams in the Upstate Eight Conference, Alcala made several pivotal plays to spark the Raiders to a 39-29 victory before a large home crowd.
With the win, the Raiders (19-5, 13-1) gained a measure of revenge by evening up the season series against the Tomcats (19-7, 13-1) while putting both teams in a tie for first place in the conference.
On Dec. 13, East Aurora knocked off the Raiders 40-28.
It was a different story in the second meeting.
Alcala's solid play on offense, defense and attacking the glass to go with a team-high 10 points was a key factor in the Raiders' win.
Freshman Jamie Mizwicki showed poise bringing the ball up the court amid heavy pressure to finish with 9 points. Brooklynn Moore, Allie Mizwicki and Callie Hardtke both scored 6 points.
Standing by the bench after the game, Alcala flashed a megawatt smile while noting the team followed the game plan by focusing defensive pressure on East Aurora's outstanding tandem of senior guard Mia Moore and junior center Anastasia Bellamy. Mia Moore led all scorers with 17 points, but Bellamy was held to 3 points.
"That was a very exhausting game," Alcala said. "They were very physical, but me and Brooklynn helped each other out down low. It feels so good to win this game. Today, we just really wanted to shut down their two main players. I think we did a good job of that."
Allie Mizwicki fueled the Raiders with her ballhandling and tough defense, plus she buried a 14-footer late in the third quarter to hold off an East Aurora comeback.
"It was a complete team effort, and everyone was on the same team, especially guarding Moore and Bellamy," Mizwicki said. "It was a big win. We needed everybody's energy in this game. It was a crazy game, but good that we got it done."
Glenbard South coach Eric Daca said tough defense was the key element.
"East Aurora is a fantastic team," Daca said. "We've been trying not to overlook any opponent, but we had this one circled. We knew we had to contain the inside because of Moore and Bellamy. Brooklynn did a great job on Bellamy, and Sofia did a great job of helping out and jumping passing lanes. She took a couple of charges today. All of our girls played hard and made East Aurora fight for every single shot."
The Tomcats endured long spurts without scoring. East Aurora failed to notch a point until the 4:12 mark of the first quarter, then tallied just 4 points in the second quarter. The Tomcats' up-and-down ways extended to the crucial fourth quarter, when they failed to register a field goal in their first 9 possessions to score only 5 points in the final eight minutes.
East Aurora coach Lee Clayborn said he saw some positives in the defeat. Clayborn said the Tomcats are having their best season since 1988-89, when the team went 26-3.
"Our shots were off," Clayborn said. "We're a young team and they exposed that. We missed some easy shots. Hats off to Glenbard South. They played a tough game. We're both tied in conference with four games each to play. We fought hard. Give Glenbard South credit, they held us to 29 points. We also played good defense. The ball didn't bounce our way tonight."