Rolling Meadows battles past Mundelein in regional opener
No. 7 seed Rolling Meadows was hardly surprised by its grind-it-out win Monday night to begin its own Class 4A girls basketball regional.
Junior Ciara McMahon scored 12 of her game-high 15 points in the first half while junior Roisen Grandberry, freshman Elizabeth Andriano and senior Cassidy Pardini each added 6 to help lift Meadows to a 37-31 triumph over No. 10 Mundelein.
Meadows (19-12) will face sectional top-seed Libertyville (28-4) at 7 p.m. on Friday while Mundelein's season ends at 12-19.
"I thought it was going to be this kind of game," said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "They are a tough team and extremely well coached. This is exactly what we talked about, where we would have to grind it out and find a way to make some plays."
Back-to-back 3-pointers by McMahon gave the Mustangs a 13-10 heading into the second period.
Two free throws by Mila Photopoulos put Mundelein back in front 14-13 but McMahon answered again with a 3-pointer and Meadows led 16-14 with 3:28 left to intermission.
Trailing 17-16 after a free throw by Andriano (3 assists), Mundelein came back to grab a 19-17 lead thanks to a 17-footer by senior Gracie Werner and a free throw from junior Rylan Foster with 1:05 left to half.
Charlotte Errico's 6-footer in the lane with three seconds left made it a 19-19 tie at the break.
McMahon's fourth 3-pointer gave Meadows a 22-19 lead early in the second half and the score remained the same until Werner found Foster under the basket for a layup to make it 22-21.
"We've been preparing for a week, really putting in the work," McMahon said. "Especially things like talking on defense and boxing out. We knew it was going to be a hard game to win. I'm glad we brought it all together."
Grandberry brought it all together on the boards, collecting a season-high 13 rebounds along with 3 assets.
Junior teammate Olivia Zielinski added 4 rebounds.
"It's the playoffs and anything can happen," Grandberry said. "We spent the entire last week preparing for this game, kind of watching everything we could on film. Kirk (Kirkorsky) told in the locker room that there's not much you can take out of those practices, except just play, and that's what we did."
Roisen Grandberry assisted on Andriano's driving bank shot the lane for a 26-23 lead and freshman Dalia Grandberry hit a short bank shot with seven seconds left to give Meadows a 28-23 lead heading into the final quarter.
Mundelein cut it to 28-25 on Werner's layup off a midcourt turnover with 5:45 left in the game.
But a 3-pointer by Andriano followed by 2 free throws and a bucket from Roisen Grandberry extended Meadows' lead to 35-27 with 2:55 left. Mundelein never get closer than 5 points.
"I was proud of our kids," Kirkorsky said. "We executed our game plan and were tough down the stretch."
McMahon's four 3s in the first half sparked Meadows' offense.
"I couldn't have done it without my teammates' passes and the screens they set for me," McMahon said.
"She (McMahon) hurt us in the first half," said Mundelein coach Sarah Teipel. "And then we allowed some points in the paint in the second half But I never question my team's heart, belief and ability to compete. They went out and proved that we could play with them."
Mundelein was led by Werner (12 points) and Foster (9). Diana Nanos, Casey Vyverman and Audrey Smith also made it into the scoring column.
"I'm proud of the way we competed," Teipel added. "Credit To Rolling Meadows. I felt in the third quarter we were a little flat. They held us to 4 points (outscored 8-4) and that allowed them to widen their gap.
"We made a lot of strides this season and I was really proud of the team's defense. I felt we left everything on the floor even if it was efficient enough to take that game into our hands at the end.
"I was truly proud of the girls. I felt they trusted the process and our team defense got super strong throughout the season. I felt we proved that at many moments tonight. I'm proud of this team."