FRANKFORT – It was very clear to Lincoln-Way East’s girls basketball team early on that it faced a difficult challenge against a talented Glenbard West squad in hopes of winning its fourth straight title in its own Medieval Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament on Saturday.
And the Griffins did their best to hang tough during the first two quarters, which resulted in them only trailing, 35-31, heading into the second half. But much to both their surprise and excitement, the game switched around in a significant fashion shortly after the break.
The Hilltoppers connected for a 3-pointer only 1:10 into the third quarter to go up, 38-34. Then, for nearly the next nine minutes, almost everything started to go East’s way while Glenbard West struggled to accomplish anything on offense.
East used a 21-0 run and kept Glenbard West from scoring any baskets over a span of 8:56 that extended into the final quarter to help lead the hosts to a 55-38 lead with 6:05 remaining to put the Griffins in position to capture a convincing 65-50 victory.
With tournament MVP Katchie Savic tossing in a season-high 31 points, East made the most of a disastrous third quarter for the Hilltoppers, who were 1 of 17 from the floor while committing seven turnovers. Glenbard West was unable to get any closer than 13 points back the rest of the way as the Griffins improved to 12-4 on the season.
“It was a great team win,” Griffins coach Jim Nair said. “While Katchie finished with the most points, there were so many girls who set a screen for her or hit big shots when she gave it to them. They were very concerned with Kaley [Sheehan], and that gave us a lot of gaps. I think the biggest key to the game was our defensive pressure kind of wore them down and that all started with Sydney Nekola, who was really able to slow down Katelyn Heller, since their offense goes through her. We kind of wore them down in the second half. Andie Perch stepped up, and our rebounding in the second half was much better than in the first half.”
Savic scored 16 of her points in the second half, which included nine during the decisive run. She not only was happy to help push the Griffins’ attack, but also was pleased to get a large number of her teammates into the scoring act.
“We were all in it together and played hard as a team and we never gave up and kept fighting until the end,” Savic said. “When it was down low with their two bigs, we just helped and Andie [Perch] was on fire getting rebounds for us. I wanted to win this so I contributed in any way, and I felt good today. Our defense plays really well and we were able to pressure them, and I also liked how we ran our fast breaks.”
Other top scorers for the Griffins were Olivia Molnar (10 points), Andie Perch (eight points), Kaley Sheehan (seven points) and Lilly Genis
(six points). For her performance throughout the four-day tournament, Sheehan also joined Savic on the all-tournament team.
“We work really hard in practice and couldn’t do anything that we’ve been able to accomplish without our amazing coaching staff,” Sheehan said. “We work really hard, and we couldn’t do it without everyone on the team. We don’t have just five or six strong players. Our whole team is filled with strong players. We all know what we’re capable of and have faith in each other and our coaches put confidence in everyone. It’s a positive vibe all the way around.”
Glenbard West (12-5), which led, 19-18, after one quarter and was up by as much as 27-21 in the second quarter, was led by a pair of all-tournament selections. They were Maggie Stutelberg (20 points, six 3-pointers) and Katelyn Heller, while Taylor Huff (12 points) and Nicholette Adamski (11 points) were other scoring leaders for the Hilltoppers.