Maine South shoots past Loyola for 1st sectional title since 2010
When they cut the nets down Thursday after Maine South's sectional win, Ava Blagojevich should have asked for a piece of the net from the West basket at New Trier.
Actually, she should have asked for the all the net.
That's because Blagojevich owned it.
The junior knocked down all four of her three-pointers on the West basket in the first half. That helped the Hawks fly past Loyola 49-38 Thursday in the New Trier sectional final in Northfield.
It was a rematch of last year's sectional game which was won by Loyola.
"It is the second year in a row we have met in this title game," Maine South coach Jeff Hamann said. "It will be an honor to play in the supersectional game. We deserve it. We are going to celebrate tonight and get back to work tomorrow."
Maine South (26-7) advanced to the supersectional next Monday for the first time since 2010, when they finished third in the state.
The Hawks will be heading to the Fremd supersectional to play Hersey on Monday. Hersey stunned Fremd 61-52 in their sectional final.
Blagojevich loved shooting at that West basket. The 5-foot-9 junior also drilled four 3-pointers on the same basket in the Hawks' win over Glenbrook South in the sectional semifinal Tuesday.
"I was feeding off the energy from the entire gym," said Blagojevich, who scored all 14 of her points in the first half. "We just kept our heads up. My teammates were able to get me the ball and everyone did a good job of persevering."
Maine South needed that hot shooting by Blagojevich. The Hawks had difficulty navigating Loyola's scrappy man-to-man defense that forced nine Maine South turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game.
"They (Loyola) are very scrappy," Hamann said. "They switch off screens and we struggle with that. But we found a way."
Maine South had taken an early 14-7 lead. But the turnovers caught up with the Hawks.
Loyola (28-7) would then drill a trio of three-point baskets on three consecutive trips down the court. The Ramblers' Marycait Mackie would have two of those triples as Loyola surged ahead 21-18 late in the first half.
Blagojevich would then knock down a pair of three-pointers of her own just before the end of the half as Maine South led 26-22 at the break.
Loyola found the range from long distance as Clare Weasley and Mackie each knocked down three-pointers as the Ramblers pulled even at 30-30 with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
Maine South then began to show its defensive prowess. The Hawks forced four turnovers to keep the Ramblers off the board.
And with Loyola paying special attention to Blagojevich, it opened up the inside for Asia Kobylarczyk, Caitlin Leyden and Meegan Fahy.
"It definitely opened up the inside," Kobylarczyk said. "We had struggled early in the season getting the ball in the middle. It definitely made a difference today."
That play inside gave the Hawks the room they needed to roam. They ran off 12 unanswered points to surge ahead 42-30 with 6:01 left on a basket by Leyden.
Loyola tried to pressure the ball. But even when the Ramblers were able to force the turnover, they failed to convert and were only able to get a close as nine the rest of the way. "Our girls were able to take it possession to possession," Hamann said. "I thought we shared the basketball real well tonight."
Fahy had 10 points for Maine South, Katie Barker 9 points and Kobylarczyk and Leyden had an identical six points and five rebounds each.
Paige Engels led Loyola with 15 points, while Mackie had 12 points and Weasler seven points.