SOUTH HOLLAND – The first quarter for Lincoln-Way West’s girls basketball team in Monday’s Class 4A Thornwood Sectional semifinal went well, as they built a 13-9 lead against the top seed in the tournament, Mother McAuley.
But the second quarter was another story, as the Warriors missed all 11 of their field-goal attempts, and the Mighty Macs used a 9-0 run to help them outscore West, 17-2, and build a 26-15 halftime advantage.
The second half wasn’t much better for coach Ryan White’s Warriors. In the third quarter Mother McAuley had a 9-0 burst and pulled away for a 63-38 victory to advance to Thursday’s sectional title game against Homewood-Flossmoor, which rallied past Thornwood, 38-35, in the second semifinal.
“They’re tough because they’re balanced, and you can’t focus on one or two kids,” said White of the Mighty Macs. “They all handle the ball and shoot the ball and guard you hard, so they’re 31-2 and ranked where they are for a reason.
“We just couldn’t get things going offensively, and a lot of that was due to their defense. We couldn’t get out in transition or to rebound the ball to do that, and they were able to set up in their press. We’ve finally got over that bump, and hopefully we can get back here here next year if we learn from this.”
Mother McAuley (31-2) got a big game from Grace Hynes, who scored a game-high 25 points, and added 12 rebounds. She was instrumental during the second quarter and the start of the third by scoring 15 points to lead the Mighty Macs to a 39-19 lead with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
Despite their lousy second quarter, the Warriors (27-5) still only trailed 26-15 at the break. The bad news was that West scoring leader Taylor Gugliuzza, who was averaging more than 20 points a game, didn’t score until there was 4:45 was left in the third quarter. She finally made a basket with 2:48 left in the third quarter on a layup. She finished with eight points.
West’s field-goal drought covered 10:47 that extended from the first through the third quarters. Meanwhile, Mother McAuley had success connecting on a variety of different shots to build on its advantage.
Other top scorers for the Mighty Macs were Jenna Badali (14 points), Bella Finnegan (eight points) and Hannah Swiatek (seven points).
The Warriors were led by their lone senior starter Tara Hastings, who had nine points. Other leaders for West were Tara Gugliuzza (seven points), Molly Ryan (six points, 10 rebounds) and Sydney Swanberg (five points).
“I’m glad that we got a regional championship,” Hastings said. “They can bear down defensively, and that made it hard for us to score. We all just played together and fed off the energy of one another, and that helped us.”