Although Lyons Township girls basketball coach Dawn Schabacker had laryngitis, her players still heard her message loud and clear during a 49-31 win over Oak Park on Saturday.
“Schas’ [Schabacker’s] voice was a little raspy,” said sophomore guard Colleen Connors. “We just had to play together. This was a big step for us because we all worked together to complete the game successfully.”
Oak Park (3-6, 0-2 West Suburban Silver Conference) jumped out to a 7-2 lead at the 5:30 mark of the first quarter as 5-foot-9 sophomore guard Stekara Hall (9 points, 4 rebounds) scored all of the Huskies’ points. Lyons seized the momentum with a 15-0 run, fueled by heavy defensive pressure. Oak Park committed five turnovers on six possessions during that spurt and had 30 turnovers for the game.
“We just turned the ball over too much,” said Oak Park center Jamie Duffy. “We had way too many lost balls and too many bad passes. Our defense was there, but we just were not making any shots.”
While the Huskies struggled offensively, LT (4-2, 1-1) closed the first quarter outscoring its opponent 18-2 to take a 20-9 lead. Connors (13 points, 5 steals) and junior center Danielle Beck (10 points, 7 rebounds) scored seven points apiece as the Lions gained control and never looked back.
“We definitely worked with our press and we wanted to force turnovers,” Schabacker said. “One of our philosophies is to wear down teams. Oak Park is going to get better and better. Next time they’re not going to have those turnovers, but we’ll take it and run with them [today].”
In the second quarter, Renata Butikas sank a pair of free throws to extend the LT lead to 25-11 with 3:50 left until halftime. The Huskies outscored LT 7-5 the rest of the period to draw within 30-18 at the break.
Junior Riley Donovan netted seven points during a 9-0 Lyons spurt to open the third quarter, and essentially sealing the victory. The Lions outscored Oak Park 16-2 in the third quarter.
Along with their turnover issues, the Huskies got to the foul line only a third of the time compared to LT. The Lions made 20-of-36 attempts from the charity stripe, while Oak Park converted 7-of-12 opportunities.
Leading 47-24 midway through the fourth quarter, Schabacker cleared her bench as the Lions cruised to their first conference victory.
“This was a necessary win,” Beck said. “Winning this game is a confidence booster for sure. We’re a young team so we have a lot of potential to improve. I think it’s only a positive thing because next year we’ll be that much better.”
Renata Butikas, one of only five LT seniors, had seven points and five boards in the win. Junior point guard Lindsay Esposito ran the Lions’ offense effectively, dishing out several assists.