LOCKPORT – Lincoln-Way West’s girls basketball team definitely had the hot hand in Tuesday’s nonconference game at Lockport, and that helped it grab an early advantage and led to a 53-40 victory that was more convincing than the final score suggests.
Coach Ryan White’s Warriors (7-1) led from the outset and hit four 3-pointers during the first 4:45 of the game to take an early 16-2 lead over the Porters (4-5), who failed to get any closer than eight points after that and trailed, 47-27, with one quarter left.
Leading the way for West were Tara Hastings (21 points), Taylor Gugliuzza (16 points), Tara Gugliuzza (seven points) and Sydney Swanberg (eight rebounds). Hastings finished with seven 3-pointers, and Taylor Gugliuzza hit four 3-pointers to help their team claim a 13-2 advantage on baskets from beyond the 3-point line.
One of the few down notes for the veteran Warriors coach was that his team turned the ball over too often, which allowed Lockport to close the gap in the late going.
“It felt like we shot the ball fairly decent,” White said. “But for me, there were still too many turnovers for us, which were taking opportunities away. When we shoot the ball like we can and don’t get a shot at the basket, it’s costing us a lot of points. Carelessness with the ball has been a problem for us, and a lot of times it hasn’t been against great pressure. And because we usually have four guards, we don’t get pressed a lot, we’re just being careless, and that’s something that we have to correct.
“There were definitely some stretches where it felt like everything was clicking and good, and then all of a sudden it seems like we have these dead spots, and I wish that we would eliminate those. And we come out strong, but then we just kind of hit a little bit of a lull.”
Hastings and Taylor Gugliuzza each tossed in a 3-pointer to make it 11-2, Tara Gugliuzza followed with a layup, and Taylor Gugliuzza sank another 3-pointer to cap an 11-0 run that gave the Warriors a 14-point lead with 3:15 left in the first quarter.
They still were up, 20-8, heading into the second quarter before the Porters closed to within 20-12 on a rebound basket from Jenna Cotter (13 points, nine rebounds), who came off the bench to lead the Porters in scoring and rebounding. But West responded to that with two more 3s from Hastings to take a 30-17 halftime lead.
“Taylor did a good job of getting me the ball, and I guess that I felt good, I don’t know,” Hastings said. “I felt good in warmups, and I hoped that transitioned into the game. We just have to limit the turnovers, and we’ll start getting back as a team and get into a groove. I think that we’ll do pretty good once we clean it all up. It’s always fun when we can shoot the ball well as a team. All four guards and sometimes even the bigs can shoot the 3.”
The Warriors used a 14-2 run early in the second half to take a 44-21 lead with 3:23 left in the third quarter that featured a pair of 3-pointers from Taylor Gugliuzza. Another 3 from Hastings gave the visitors a 20-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
“It just makes it so much easier when everything is flowing and when we have more energy than our opponent,” Taylor Gugliuzza said. “It also helps that Molly (Ryan) and Evan (Pittman), our two tall girls, did a good job of hustling and really boxing out. Now we’re focused on getting rebounds since it so much easier, since then you can get into transition. We just have to clean up some things.”
After Hastings made her final 3-pointer to make it 53-29, the Porters continued to battle and managed to score the final 11 points to make the outcome appear closer. Lockport’s other leaders were Kaeli Ford (seven points) and Elena Knebel (six points).
“We have to get better at our offensive skills. We were just a bit off,” Porters coach Dan Kelly said. “We also struggled on the defensive end. Our girls don’t ever quit. We will play to the end. We just have to be more consistent.”