The Nazareth Academy girls’ basketball team scored the first nine points in its IHSA Class 3A supersectional game against Fenwick High School on Feb. 28 at De La Salle in Chicago, propelling the Roadrunners to a 46-30 win and a trip to the state semifinals.
“The kids wanted this,” said Nazareth coach Eddie Stritzel. “We knew what Fenwick was going to do on offense. We’re very athletic and long, and I thought our defense was sensational.”
Besides playing stellar defense, Nazareth junior guard Grace Carstensen hit all three of her three-point attempts in the opening quarter to give the Roadrunners a 12-2 lead.
“We’ve just been working for this all year, and I’m grateful we were able to pull it off,” said Carstensen, who finished with five three-pointers and a game-high 19 points. “We knew [Fenwick] was going to play zone, so we knew what we were going to get and shot really well.”
The Roadrunners led 25-15 at halftime and continued their intense defense into the second half, making it difficult for Fenwick to get the ball inside where it had the height advantage. The pressure resulted in several Friar turnovers as Fenwick ended up with 21 on the night.
“We played hard and stuck to our game plan,” said Nazareth sophomore forward Olivia Austin. “We played good defense and that always carries over to the offensive end.”
Nazareth opened up its’ biggest lead at 38-23 with 6:44 remaining in regulation, and Fenwick could come no closer than 12.
“Our kids weren’t going to be denied. They’ve worked hard for this from day one of practice,” Stritzel said.
Sophomore Danni Scully had 10 points, five rebounds and three steals for the Roadrunners. Austin turned in an all-around performance with six points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals, while senior forward Caroline Workman added six points for Nazareth, which advances to a Class 3A state semifinal against downstate Morton, which won 49-40 winner over Marian Catholic in the Lewis University Supersectional.
The Roadrunners and Potters meet March 4 at Redbird Arena on the Illinois State University campus in Normal. Tipoff is set for 11:45 a.m.