FRANKFORT – Routines and habits are a critical part of athletic performance, but sometimes things get in the way, such as holidays.
Lincoln-Way Central opened Lincoln-Way East’s Medieval Classic on Wednesday morning with a 53-35 victory over Bloom Township, but it wasn’t as easy, especially early, as the score indicated.
“We knew there would be some holiday rust since we haven’t been together since last Friday,” Knights coach Dave Campanile said. “Along with having an 11 a.m. game, we knew we might be a little stagnant to start.”
That rust was apparent as the second quarter began, but a critical timeout seemed to solve all of those problems.
With Central (6-5) leading 19-12 after the first quarter, the Blazing Trojans cut that lead to three at 20-17 with 3:51 left in the half, and Campanile called a timeout.
After getting back on the floor, the Knights went on a 16-0 run, held Bloom scoreless for the remainder of the half and went into halftime leading, 36-17.
“We talked about how we needed to bring up the intensity and execute our game plan during that timeout,” Campanile said. “We knew our guards were much better, and we just had to play our game. We regrouped well, rebounded better and scored a lot of transition points.”
Sophomore Megan Hutchinson led the Knights with 14 points, scoring five of those during the second-quarter run.
“We were all excited about getting back together again, as a team and playing,” Hutchinson said. “Coach told us just to get back to playing our game during that timeout because we were better than what we were showing. It was good to get back on the floor and play together, and that was a good experience for us.”
Senior Abi Baumgartner scored 11 points for the Knights, eight in the first quarter, and grabbed eight rebounds during the game.
“We have started most games a little slow, but the first quarter we were better today, but then we let them [Bloom] back in the game and that may have been too much of that Christmas food everyone was getting over,” Baumgartner said. “After the timeout, we had the mindset to do what we do and execute. It was nice to be back on the court together and play a game.”
Central’s defense continued to play well in the third quarter, as it held Bloom to only one field goal and five points. The Knights allowed only two field goals from the middle of the second quarter until the middle of the fourth quarter.
Regan LoConte and Haley Stoklosa each had nine points in the winning effort, and Imari Clark led Bloom with 18 points and grabbed 10 boards.
In the tournament’s second game, the holiday layoff was more apparent as Glenbard West handed Minooka only its second loss of the season, 64-53.
With the game tied at 11-11 with 3:42 left in the first quarter, the Hilltoppers outscored the Indians, 10-3, the remainder of the quarter and never looked back.
Trailing 35-25 at the break, Minooka (15-2) cut the lead to 39-34 with 5:07 left in the third quarter, but West (10-4) went on 16-2 run that included four 3-pointers and led 56-39 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hilltoppers hit seven 3s on the day, went 14 for 20 from the free-throw line and had four players in double figures.
“We just couldn’t get anything going today, and the effects of the layoff really showed early,” Minooka coach Jeff Easthon said. “We came out as flat as you could possibly be, didn’t hit any shots like we normally do and it kept getting worse. They [Glenbard West] are a good team, and they really shot the ball well today.
“They beat us up inside and just about everywhere else today. This brings everyone back to reality. It shows them we need to get a lot better. You just can’t show up and expect to win.”
Cierra Bachmann led the Indians with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Knights and Indians will face each other Thursday in the round-robin format.