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In a game occasionally littered with turnovers and missed layups, Lyons Township guard Colleen Connors mastered one fundamental down the stretch against Riverside-Brookfield: free throws.

With the score tied at 37 and under five minutes remaining, the 5-foot-8 senior made 7-of-8 attempts from the charity stripe to secure the Lions’ 48-41 victory over the visiting Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.

“The little things make the difference between and a win and a loss,” said Connors, who finished with 10 points. “Everybody on our team making free throws is an important way to pull out a win. We gave a good effort [today] and it’s a nice feeling to know our confidence is growing after each game.”

Freshman guard Victoria Swift led LT (6-2) with 13 points, while Ashanti Davis and Sarah Beck each scored nine apiece.

“I love playing with the girls on our team and for coach Meyers,” Swift said. “It’s exciting we’re off to a good start, and I know we are going to keep progressing as a team.”

After an inside basket by Elena Duve put RB up 5-3 early, the Lions went on a 13-5 run to close the first quarter with a 16-10 lead. Trailing 25-19 at halftime, the Bulldogs’ Meghan Orgler scored 12 of her game-high 14 points to cut the Lions’ lead to 34-33 after three quarters. Orgler scored the opening eight points of the third quarter, highlighted by a bank shot off an offensive rebound to tie the game at 27-27.

“Meghan has been solid all year.” RB coach Dallas Till said. “Teams clamp down on her and she still finds way to score and get to the [free-throw] line. Our team goes as she goes.”

Danielle Peco (8 points), Duve (7 points) and Brittany JnoBaptiste (6 points) also contributed for RB.

“We could have done a better job handling the ball and limiting our turnovers [against LT],” Duve said. “We had some open looks though, and I thought we shot the ball well. I think we’ll bounce back and play well against Timothy Christian.”

With the Bulldogs down 42-39 and 1:29 left in the game, Orgler had a clean look at a three-pointer but rushed the shot. The Lions held on as Connors made three free throws and Swift scored on a layup.

“We are off to a much better start this year with six wins under our belt,” LT second-year head coach Katie Meyers said. “I believe we can play with anyone really, but we have struggled at times as well. We need to establish more consistency and play our style of basketball.”

Similar to LT, the Bulldogs (6-2) are off to a fast start under Till. Led by the all-around play of Orgler and Duve, RB opened the season with six straight wins and its Thanksgiving Tournament title.

The Bulldogs look to snap their two-game losing skid this week at home against Timothy Christian. LT travels to Glenbard West before competing in the Wheaton North Invitational over the holidays.

Photos by J. GEIL/Photo Editor