By Marty Farmer
In an impressive debut at the 35th Annual Komaromy Classic hosted by Dundee-Crown, the Trinity High School basketball team won three of four games en route to a runner-up finish. More importantly, the Blazers discovered an intangible every team looks for during the season.
"We found our identity in this tournament as a really tough, lockdown defensive team," Trinity coach Mike Valente said. "The story of the whole tourney for us was our defense. We were shutting down teams averaging about 60 points a game to 30 or 40 points. We like to pressure our opponents. It's a big bully mentality which the girls have embraced."
The only game Trinity didn't dominate defensively was the final. Undefeated Maine West broke a relatively close game wide open in the fourth quarter to win 54-33.
"In the closing seconds of the third quarter, we missed a corner three and Maine West scored a layup at the buzzer," Valente said. "That sequence pushed their lead to 10 points. It was a big momentum swing and I think we kind of accepted out fate. Maine West is probably one of the top two teams in the state right now, but we just ran out of gas."
In other games, Trinity (11-4) defeated Naperville Central 45-39 in the semifinals, Maine West 44-39 in the quarterfinals, and host Dundee-Crown 45-30 in its opener.
Trailing Naperville Central by six points after three quarters, the Blazers outscored the Redhawks 21-6 in the fourth quarter to secure the comeback victory. Senior Lauren Lee, a University of California, Santa Barbara commit, scored 16 points and Dayjah Chmielewski added 12 points for the Blazers. Both players earned All-Tournament Team honors.
"Lauren made some timely baskets and played great defense throughout the tournament," Valente said. "Dayjah looks to score and can get her shot off against anybody. She's young but understanding the game better. This tournament was a coming out party for her."
Another bright spot for the Blazers was the return of sophomore Zyerra Stafford, who had been out for an extended period of time with a knee injury. After missing approximately nine months, Stafford played in two games at Dundee-Crown.
"Zee was an all-conference player last season so we're excited to have her back in the lineup," Valente said about Stafford. "This is the first stretch of game we had our starting five on the court. This tournament was a great experience and helped prepare us for the rest of the season."
The Friars went 2-2 to finish in sixth place at Dundee-Crown. The team's signature win came against New Trier. Trailing the Trevians 43-35 entering the fourth quarter, the Friars forced overtime with a 52-all score at the end of regulation. Fenwick maintained its momentum in overtime to pull out an inspired 68-66 win.
The Friars also defeated Prospect 63-45 in the first round; however, lost 63-40 against tourney champion Maine West on Dec. 27. Kate Moore scored 11 points against Maine West, while McKenzie Blaze and Gianni Ortiz contributed six points apiece. Maine South dealt the Friars a 74-52 loss on the last day of the tournament.
Blaze and Maggie Van Ermen were named to the All-Tournament Team.