The Lyons Township High School girls basketball team squandered an opportunity to draw even with Oak Park and River Forest atop the West Suburban Conference Silver Division standings on Saturday.
Instead, the host Huskies edged LTHS 43-39 to build a two-game lead in the conference standings. Although the Lions (11-6, 4-3) entered Saturday’s showdown against OPRF (9-10, 6-1) short-handed without starter Frannie Corrigan (broken finger) and promising sophomore Kaelan Lee (concussion), turnovers were more concerning for LTHS coach Paul Krick.
“It was disappointing. We were missing two important players but that’s no excuse,” said Krick, who is optimistic both Corrigan and Lee will return soon. “We fell short in —what they call in tennis — unforced errors. The problem was our turnovers led to easy baskets for Oak Park. To their credit, they made us work for our baskets but we helped them a bit.
“There was a lot on this game. I thought we were prepared, but we played a little timid and didn’t attack the basket.”
The Lions started well with a 14-7 lead after one quarter. Senior point guard Nina Scaramella hit a pair of 3-pointers and sophomore guard Sidney Bugaieski chipped in five points as LTHS closed out the quarter on a 6-0 spurt.
Employing some full-court pressure and an aggressive zone defense, the Huskies scored 12 of the next 16 points to take the lead at 19-18 on Michaela Thornton’s 3-pointer midway through the second quarter.
Tied 23-23 at halftime, LTHS went scoreless for most of the third quarter until center Emily Pender finally made a pair of free throws with 1:15 left in the quarter. The damage had already been done, however, as OPRF scored the first 11 points of the third quarter to push out to a 34-23 advantage.
Trailing 39-30 with five minutes remaining in the game, the Lions cut the deficit to 39-38 as Scaramella triggered the rally with a 3-pointer off an assist from Pender.
“When we were down 10, we did a good job fighting back to cut it to one,” Scaramella said. “We struggled with our passing. We also can do a better job of working the ball more inside and not just settling for 3-point shots.”
Sophomore guard Maeve Nelson went 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the last 1:20 to preserve the victory for OPRF. Nelson also set the tone defensively with seven steals.
“I question if there’s a better player in the state at making a bigger impact (on defense) than Maeve,” OPRF coach J.P. Coughlin said. “We can play a zone and have her cover almost half the floor.”
Scaramella led LTHS with 10 points, while Pender scored nine points and Bugaieski had eight.
“We’re doing pretty good,” Pender said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries which has been hard, but we have a lot of strong returning players plus some new talent helping us out.
“I think you win games with defense and rebounding so those are two things we need to step up.”
Center Blair Ripley had a game-high 16 points and Nelson added six points and five rebounds for OPRF.