The roughly 40 fans in attendance at Glenbrook South’s game against Maine South at the Titan Dome only saw one layup from the home team in the first quarter.
What they also witnessed was Glenbrook South making five three-pointers in the first eight minutes of play.
The Titans were just getting started.
Glenbrook South went on to make 12 total triples in a 64-46 victory over Maine South, improving its record to 6-0 on the season. On Friday night, the Titans made eight 3-pointers in a 55-33 win.
Glenbrook South junior Nick Martinelli credited the team’s defense for the success they have had on offense.
“Each person just doing their job, being on the help side and guarding their own man — that’s all we basically do in practice,” Martinelli said. “We’ve had long, boring practices just working on defense and being in the right spot. In the game it works and it helps and it makes the game a lot more fun.”
Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston said that the practices may be “monotonous” at times, but Ralston likes to put his players in game-like situations that will create “game-ready shooters” instead of “drive-way shooters.”
One of those “game-ready shooters” is junior guard Cooper Noard, who had 10 total triples in home-away series with the Hawks.
“Anytime you got a really good point guard, you got a shot at being really good as a team,” Ralston said. “When you got a point guard that can also score, that opens up your game to a completely new level. Teams are focused, five guys on him. A lot of our actions are trying to free him up for open looks. But the other aspect of it is that our offense is also designed to get other people in positions where they are going to get open looks too. The more teams have to focus on some other guys it frees up Cooper even more.”
Martinelli is one of the players that benefits from the attraction Cooper creates. Martinelli and Noard tied for a team-high 18 points.
Glenbrook South outscored Maine South 21-10 in the third quarter to give the Titans a 62-31 lead heading into the final frame, essentially putting the game out of reach. Ralston put in his bench with about 5:40 left in the game, and the backups played a majority of the fourth quarter.
Maine South, now 4-2 overall, had a brief lead in the game, when the Hawks were leading 9-6 with 4:46 left in the first quarter. Maine South coach Tony Lavorato knew this second game against Glenbrook South would be a challenge, especially since starter Ryan Leyden was injured in the first quarter of Friday’s game.
“We don’t get a chance to practice with the kids who will be replacing him, so we are kind of doing things on the fly and through walk-throughs,” Lavorato said. “Were we leg weary? I don’t know, but the bottom line is they also played four games. They did a much better job than we did finishing the week strong. We are going to learn and get better and get stronger. That’s kind of what it’s about.”
Ralston anticipated Maine South would make some adjustments from the previous matchup, so Glenbrook South countered with their own changes, and also knocked down shots from long range.
“We tweaked some aspects of our offense that we expected them to do against us, and they worked,” Ralston said. “Then we had all the different kids that hit threes … that opens things up.”
The Hersey Huskies were dominant from the start of Saturday’s 55-15 win over hosts Wheeling, racing out to a 31-0, second-quarter lead. But the score was far from the most interesting thing going on between two teams playing in their first game of the season.
Longtime Huskies coach Mary Fendley stood masked up, across from counterpart and first-year Wheeling head coach Beth Christell.
Their relationship? Former teacher and pupil.
Fendley, who coached Christell for the Huskies in 2000-2003, got the best of her former player Saturday, but she is excited for more of what’s to come in future Mid-Suburban League competition against her colleague and one-time standout guard. The Daily Herald covered Christell’s hiring as head coach.
Illinois-Basketball.com caught up with both Christell and Fendley after the game and asked about their teams, their relationship with one another and their expectations for the future.
Q: First of all, just how nice is it to be out on the court again playing in live-game action considering the circumstances in the world?
A (Fendley): I am absolutely thrilled to be coaching. A few short weeks ago it did not seem like this would happen. I told my girls that I even appreciate having to drive the bus while listening to tone deaf singers. (Seriously, they are amazing athletes. Singing – not so much.)
Q: How satisfied were you with the hot start and what’s the overall attitude of this team heading into a hectic few weeks of games?
A: I am blessed to have an amazingly talented group of athletes. The last few days at practice, things have started to click. I think we have a lot of offensive firepower, and am hopeful that a few of the girls will be ‘on’ at any given time. I think we all appreciate the opportunity we have to play the game we love. And, we just want to make the most of it.
Q: What years did you coach Beth Christell, and what type of player was she then? Knowing she’s been part of Wheeling’s program a few years, did you notice any changes to the way they play this year compared to years past when she was an assistant?
A: Beth was a strong guard whose atheticism made her super versatile. She could hit threes but could slash through the paint when overplayed.
The past few years I have been so impressed with how she has coached her JV team. She has shown a great combination of patience on the sideline with her girls while also motivating them to perform their best. Honestly, I was able to notice her more when I wasn’t coaching against her!
Q: What do you think folks who follow Wheeling basketball can expect from her leading that program, and how much are you looking forward to coaching against her in the future?
Beth is a competitor. So, Wheeling fans can know that she will continue to work hard to keep the program improving.
Q: How was it coaching against her tonight overall and did it produce any unique thoughts or feelings?
I appreciate being able to be in a league with Beth and so many other coaches who are passionate about what we do. She is a great representative of Wheeling, District 214, and the MSL. I probably sound cheesy, but I’m proud of Beth. She has done everything the right way to get to this point as a varsity coach. I have no doubt that she will do great things.
Q: How nice is it to be out on the court again playing in live-game action considering the circumstances in the world?
A: With the uncertainty of most athletics this year, it’s been a really tough year for the girls. For their physical and mental well-being, they’ve needed some normalcy, and I’m so grateful we’re able to do whatever it takes to have a season this year.
Q: What’s the overall attitude of your team heading into a hectic few weeks of games and how much are you all focused on growth in a short season?
We can definitely feel the rush of the season; however, as a coaching staff of a group with no seniors, our push has continuously been progress. We are using this year to grow our understanding of the game and improve our team goals and priorities. Knowing that I have all of these girls back next season is a great feeling for our program.
Q: What years did you play for Mary, and what do you remember most vividly about her coaching style and playing for her? I read your father was a coach at Hersey a long time, how deep does that connection run deep to Hersey athletics?
A: I played for Fen and Barthel from 2000-2003 and remember that they always had a great balance of high expectations and fun. We did so many fun team activities to help build relationships with each other, but also was expected to compete during practice. Hersey High School was such an important part of my life. My father and mother both coached and taught at the school (dad, basketball and business teacher, mom, cheerleading, swimming and deaf and hard of hearing teacher for 32 years at Hersey). So many of the reasons I teach high school math and coach at the high school level are because of my interactions with the amazing teachers and coaches at Hersey. I will always be grateful for what Hersey has given to me and how it has helped make me who I am today.
Q: Knowing you’ve been part of Wheeling’s program a few years, have you tried to institute any broad changes or are you just building on what you’ve done as an assistant? Perhaps building on things she taught you as a coach?
A: The main changes I have tried to initiate at Wheeling has been to improve the numbers and communication with our feeder program. We have some great people in charge of the feeder program, and I have high hopes, that with higher numbers of kids interested in girls basketball at the middle school age, we can only improve our program outlook in the years to come. The other thing I’ve been striving to improve is to get our girls to see the importance of details and competing with each other. Both of these things were taught to me at Hersey and throughout my playing in college. If the girls can understand the little things/details of a basketball game, it will lead to bigger things. And the idea that competition among a team is a good thing; the sky is the limit to how far Wheeling Girls Basketball can go.
Q: How often do you and Mary still communicate as colleagues in the league?
A: Fen and I haven’t communicated tons up until this year. Before a few years ago, I was coaching at other schools (Elgin and Stevenson) and it isn’t until the past few years that I came back into the MSL. Now, especially as a varsity head coach, I see her and Barthel as people I can go to for anything. I’m honored I can call them colleagues in the league.
Q: What do you think folks who follow Wheeling basketball can expect from you leading that program and how much are you looking forward to coaching against Mary in the future?
A: This is a tough year. With a shortened season and no seniors, we really see this year as a pre-season to the 2021-2022 season. Our coaching staff have preached to the girls that they need to have something that sticks out to Wheeling basketball. No one will make every shot. No one will never have a break down on defense. However, hustle, aggressiveness, attitude and effort are things we can control every single game. With some more time, practice and competition among our team, I’m excited to consistently improve against great teams, like Hersey, in the MSL. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re ready for the challenge.
Q: How was it coaching against Mary tonight overall and did it produce any unique thoughts or feelings?
A: Coaching against Fen and Barthel tonight definitely brought up some emotions. On one hand, I felt like I didn’t belong. For women, who I looked up to for so long and have put so many hours into the game of basketball, I felt not in their league. On the other hand, I was honored to be coaching at the varsity level and to be able to set goals for myself and my program, similar to what Fen and Barthel have accomplished at Hersey. I know they have coached a lot of talented basketball athletes and to be the first alumni to coach against Fen, has been a privilege.
Q: Finally, as you guys grow and play games in quick succession, what types of things are you looking for from your team and who do you expect to make big strides in the coming weeks?
A: With the shortened season, we are looking to make improvements. Every game, every practice. We’re not going to go from scoring 15 points in a game to scoring 60 overnight. But if we remind ourselves of our goals and make small improvements day by day, that’s success for us! We reminded our girls after the first game last night that we’re a team that needs everyone to pitch in. We’re not necessarily going to have a girl that scores 20 or 25 points a night. We’re excited for our junior leadership in Nikki Niznik, Sara Aranda, Ashley Yasak and Julia Kawa, and are encouraged by some talented freshmen coming up in Maya Huelsman and Marlena Miloucheva. The future looks bright and our girls are ready to compete.
Notable stat lines from the game
Hersey Team Stats: 16 assists; 24 of 41 shooting.
Mary Kate Fahey, 14 points; 3 assists
Avery Larson, 4 assists; 5 rebounds
Katy Eidle, 12 points; 3 assists; 3 steals
Mary McGrath 13 points; 5 assists ; 4 rebounds; 6 of 6 FG
For Wheeling, junior Sara Aranda was 2 of 3 from beyond the 3-point arc and freshman Maya Huelsman scored 4 points in her first game.
A long run in the middle of the fourth quarter was the difference for Paris in a 50-39 road win at Sullivan Saturday afternoon.
Madyson Rigdon led the Tigers with 12 points and 3 steals, Kendra Young added 10 points, 11 rebounds and Kaitlyn Coombs scored 10. Trinity Tingley totaled 5 assists for the Tigers.
Emily White scored 14, knocking down 3 triples and Alaina Moore had 11 for Sullivan. Jerra Goad, who was effective getting to the free throw line in the early going, finished with 8 points.
Sullivan fell to 2-1 with a loss and Paris moved to 2-0.
Paris cut the score to as close as 35-30 before a quick 12-0 run by the Tigers was capped by several layups and a Young three-pointer out of Paris’ 4-corners, late-game offense as they surged ahead 47-30.
Sullivan’s defense continued to slow the Tigers as it had in the final two minutes of the second, continuing a run that cut a 28-13 Paris second-quarter lead to a 28-24 deficit.
One big sequence in the third quarter saw Rigdon hit the front end of a 1-and-1, only to miss the second before Kendra Young grabbed the offensive board and made the put-back, extending Paris’ lead to 35-25 with just under two minutes left.
The Tigers led 35-28 going to the fourth.
The teams exchanged a trio of possessions consecutively with made three-pointers, with Alaina Moore knocking down the one for Sullivan.
Paris went on a 10-0 run with stifling defense in the quarter, only for Sullivan to go on a 6-0 run of its own to cut its deficit to 28-19 at half.
Paris got things going in transition with several steals to race out to a 9-3 lead. The Tigers’ man-to-man defense challenged nearly every shot in the early going.
Sullivan put in its trapping zone defense about five minutes into the game, something Paris struggled to deal with the rest of the first quarter until the final minute, in which Paris hit two buckets in the lane for a 15-10 lead after a period. Fourth-quarter
With the result never really in doubt, Peoria *built on two victories a season ago against Richwoods, winning a non-conference matchup with the Lions on Friday: 59-41.
Denali Craig-Edwards demonstrated the smoothness of her game, hitting from beyond the 3-point line, operating well in transition, all while staying pesky on then defensive end. Her 20 points, combined with Aaliyah Guyton’s 15, helped lead Peoria (2-0) to a relatively comfortable victory.
The Big 12 Conference foes faced off in a non-conference matchup that won’t go toward league standings. A season ago, the Knights grabbed victories of 46-33 and 61-55. Richwoods (0-1) did not return a starter from its 2019-20 season, though former Knights starter Paris Wilson did return to her home court, starting for the Lions Friday.
*Credit to Clutch Sports Media for lots of clutch info in its live broadcast*
Guyton, a highly-touted freshman already with an offer from Vanderbilt, nearly matched the 17 she scored in the opener, scoring 12 of her 15 in the second half. The Lions pushed the pace — even late with reserve players in the game.
Saniya Tutt continued to do good things in the third, working in tandem with the likes of Craig-Edwards and the quickly-emerging Guyton to extend the Lions’ lead to 41-23.
Guyton, showed off some of her quickness and ball-handling, penetrating into the heart of Richwoods’ zone and creating opportunities for teammates — including Craig-Edwards, who finished at half with 11 points as Peoria led 24-15 at the break.
After the Knights hit a bucket from the floor just over two minutes into the game, the Lions’ defense held them without a field goal 7-plus minutes, until around the 6:30 mark of the second quarter when Faith Howard dropped in a layup.
Kamryn Heider had 6 points at the half for the Knights.
Craig-Edwards hit the first of her several 3-pointers in the first quarter as Peoria played to a 10-2 lead. It was a sloppy start that featured plenty of layups as Richwood’s relatively inexperienced team (no returning starters) struggled to find the bottom of the bucket or mount productive possessions.
*Correction: Article corrected to reflect that Peoria won both games against Richwoods last season.