After Trinity endured a 30-point loss to Marian Catholic [52-22] in the third-place game of the Montini Christmas Tournament, head coach Ed Stritzel put the surprisingly lopsided setback in perspective.
“We didn’t play our best [against Marian Catholic],” Stritzel said matter-of-factly. “We were tired from having three games in four nights. We didn’t play up to our standards.”
Consider the Trinity standard fully restored after an unforgettable victory Saturday night. The Blazers knocked off top-ranked Whitney Young 56-52 in their “white out” game before a vocal home crowd in River Forest. Whitney Young entered the game as the No. 1 team in Class 4A of the Associated Press High School Girls Basketball Poll.
Sophomore guard Annie McKenna scored 21 points and senior Lauren Prochaska finished with 18 points to power the Blazers past the Dolphins. Kaitlin Aylward chipped in 11 points for the Blazers (14-2), who used their speed advantage to effectively negate the Dolphins’ imposing frontline.
Prochaska also passed the 1,000-point mark on Saturday. The DePaul-bound Prochaska, who is averaging 18 points per game this season, has also amassed over 400 assists and 400 steals during her career with the Blazers.
“Despite our recent struggles during Christmas, we’re doing great,” Prochaska said. “We’re continually trying to improve and prepare for the state tournament.”
Kiara Lewis finished with 17 points and Khaalia Hillsman contributed 12 points for the Dolphins (13-2). Speaking of standards, along with Bolingbrook and Montini, Whitney Young has been one of the most prolific girls basketball programs in the state over the past five years, claiming Class 4A state titles in 2012 and 2008 and state runner-up finishes to Bolingbrook in 2010 and 2009. Montini won state titles 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Despite the Dolphins’ impressive pedigree, the Blazers contained their opponents’ size enough to earn the coveted home victory.
“We really focused on playing good defense and boxing out to get rebounds,” Trinity guard Trish Stritzel said. “The atmosphere was incredible. It was hard to hear the plays being called on the court because of the crowd noise but it was so exciting. We feel very confident about the rest of the season.”
Trinity and Whitney Young could meet again in a postseason showdown as both teams are slotted in the 4A Hinsdale South Sectional.
OPRF girls hoops earn two conference wins
The Huskies swept a pair of games against Lyons Township and Glenbard West over the weekend, improving to 10-10 overall and 3-2 within the West Suburban Conference Silver Division. Symbolically, the victories represent an important step in the young Huskies’ maturation process.
“We struggled at Montini [Christmas Tournament] losing three of four games,” OPRF coach J.P. Coughlin said. “We have such a young team that I was worried about them getting down, so we refocused and revamped how we did some things in practice to get their confidence going. These two wins were huge because the girls are starting to believe in each other.”
The Huskies pulled away from visiting Lyons Township for a 50-39 win Friday. Emily Schreck (15 points, 12 rebounds) made four shots from beyond the three-point arc in the third quarter. In the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Katie Mullins (seven points) nailed a trey to secure the Huskies’ victory. Hailey Hoye contributed 14 points.
Notably, OPRF edged the Lions with an effective and somewhat unexpected zone defense.
“Entering the season, we thought we would be a pressing team with a lot of fast breaks,” Coughlin said. “We discovered that we weren’t getting enough turnovers and baskets off our press. I’m a man-to-man junkie, but we played zone almost every possession, and we didn’t press at all against Lyons. I thought we defended well and made shots when it counted to pull away.”
The Huskies built on their win over the Lions with a 52-33 victory against Glenbard West in Glen Ellyn Saturday. Freshman Chardonnay Harris had 14 points and seven steals and Schreck tallied eight points and 12 rebounds. Hoye chipped in nine points.
“We had a rough start against Glenbard West but turned it around pretty quickly,” Coughlin said. “We went on a 15-0 run in the third quarter and played our reserves the entire fourth quarter.”