JOLIET – A big first half resulted in a very good night for Joliet West’s girls basketball team in Friday’s Southwest Prairie Conference crossover game against Plainfield North, the first game of a girls and boys doubleheader between the two Tigers programs.
After grabbing a 39-26 halftime lead, West went on to beat Plainfield North, 73-45, to win its 13th game in a row and improve to 18-3 overall and 9-1 in the conference.
With Joliet Central losing, 42-41, at Oswego, the Steelmen’s long winning streak was snapped, and they fell to 8-2 in the SPC East, one game behind their district rivals.
“Anytime when you get a group of girls who play hard, you can be competitive, so I convinced the girls that this would be a good game because North was playing with everybody,” West coach John Placher said. “And our group of girls takes the challenge. Once in a while they get a little derailed, but when they start really playing and pushing the ball, they’re really good.
“I can’t say enough about our role players Symone Riley, Maliyah Walker, Akeisha Watson and Destiny McNair coming off the bench. We have as nice seven-woman rotation, and we don’t really lose anything when they’re in there. They don’t get a lot of the publicity or the points, but they do all of the little things right, and that’s why we’re the team we are now.”
Jazzpher Evans scored 20 of her game-high 26 points in the first half to set the tone for the hosts, who took an 18-9 lead after one quarter and then, after leading by 13 points at halftime, outscored North, 19-8, in the third quarter to build a 58-34 advantage.
“Our goal this year is to not lose a game on our home court,” Evans said. “With us playing like we are, we can reach that goal. Our coach tells us with us winning, teams are coming for us, so we always have to bring our best with high, intense energy.
“At the the beginning of the season, we definitely talked about how everyone had a role and every role was important. No matter if you’re scoring the most or getting the most rebounds, everybody fills their spot, and we do it well and it works for us.”
Lisa Thompson added 20 points for West, with 11 of those coming in the third quarter, when the hosts started to pull away. Other top scorers for the hosts were Walker (13 points), Grace Walsh (seven points) and Riley (five points).
After hosting Metea Valley on Saturday, West has several good tests coming up on its home court. They have a big SPC game against West Aurora on Thursday and play Providence Catholic and Plainfield South to kick off the following week.
North, under first-year coach Michaela Reedy, came into the contest on a good note after having won five of its past six games, including three of four in conference play, with the only loss being to Joliet Central. They were led by Lexie Hernandez, who made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, and Marissa Mussatto, who had nine points.