Nazareth Seals The Deal, Austin Soars In 3A Title Game
NORMAL – Olivia Austin shined bright, motivated by a state championship loss last year, and led Nazareth Academy to a 63-52 Class 3A title game win Saturday evening over unbeaten Lincoln. Austin scored 23 with 12 rebounds and 3 assists.
Coming off an IHSA state finals record of 45 points In the semis, Lincoln’s Kloe Froebe scored 19, held in-check by the attention of multiple Roadrunners at all times.
The Roadrunners ran multiple players at Froebe every time she touched the ball, just to get it away from her.
Austin and Danielle Scully were bullies in the post, time and again forcing their ways inside to assert their will against the smaller Railsplitters. Mary Bridget Wilson and Grace Carstensen sank some time 3-pointers and the Roadrunners raced along all night long to claim the program’s first girls state basketball championship.
Froebe was active early, but the Roadrunners dictated the pace and shape of the game.
Nazareth Academy finished 35-1, Lincoln went 36-1.
Numbers Of Note
Enrollment: Lincoln 810, Nazareth 754
-Nazareth Academy outscored Lincoln 18-9 in the third quarter after leading by 6 at half.
-Both teams recorded 7 assists apiece in the first half, moving the ball well, leading to 50+ percent shooting over the first two quarters for both teams.
-The Roadrunners assisted on 14 of 24 buckets and made 24 of 41 shotsx (58.5%).
-Bridget Wilson and Carsten each scored 11 and Amalia Dray added 10.
-Bridget Wilson, Austin, Carstensen and Dray each contributed 3 assists.
-Becca Heitzig scored 12 and Taryn Stolzenberg added 9 (3 3’s).
-Froebe recorded 7 assists, Heitzig had 4 more.
-All 5 of the Railsplitter starters were juniors.
What Did They Say?
“We understood that we had the size advantage and we wanted to really capitalize off that, especially going in and out, because we knew they’d collapse on that,” – Olivia Austin
“We’ve been playing since fifth grade, a lot of us, so we’ve been able to build a lot of chemistry between us, Grace too,” – Austin
“Nothing (changed) schematically, we did the some thing but I just told the girls, let’s go, let’s put an end this,” – Nazareth coach Ed Stritzel about halftime message
“We thought ended last year with a bitter taste in our mouths. I told them we had a great chance to win it this year, but we’re not going to let that get to us,” -Stritzel
“This is an amazing, amazing defensive effort.” – Stritzel
“I think Grace (Carstensen) really turned into a good captain this year,” – Mary Bridget Wilson
“One of the most devastating moments of my basketball career,” -Grace Carstensen said of last year’s title game loss
“We all just wanted to come back here and seal the deal,” Carstensen
“We were screaming to ‘squeeze her’ (Froebe) is what we call it, basically to get the ball out of the main girls’ hands,” -Danielle Scully
”I think I have the best teammates in the state of Illinois,” – Kloe Froebe
“They sure played hard in the last few minutes of the game, the last quarter, the last quarter and a half, it just didn’t go our way, shots didn’t fall and that’s the game,” – Lincoln coach Taylor Rohrer
Froebe assisted or scored to contribute to Lincoln’s first 11 points.
Olivia Austin put Nazareth up 10-9 with an and-1 bucket and free throw.
Nazareth played the high-low game excellently with Danielle Scully, Olivia Austin and Amalia Dray.
Dray hit a corner 3-pointer that gave Nazareth a 15-11 lead.
Carstensen knocked down consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter, while Austin and Scully held down the paint for the Roadrunners on their way to a 31-25 halftime lead.
In a relatively short stretch, Carstensen and Mary Bridget Wilson sank triples, then Amalia Dray finished a tough and-1 off a Scully assist. Then Austin dropped in a layup off a Lincoln turnover for a 42-25 Nazareth Academy lead. Dray scored in transition for a 13-2 Roadrunners’ run out of the half before the Railsplitters’ Becca Heitzig stopped the bleeding momentarily.
The Roadrunners haggled Froebe defensively and got out in transition. Nazareth led 49-35 after 3.
Lincoln pulled within 12 on a Heitzig jumper, only for Austin to score shortly following that to make it 53-39 Nazareth.
Nazareth was doing such a good job of dictating a game, that it was hard to string together consecutive possessions where Froebe had the ball as a threat to score.
Taryn Stolzenburg hit a pair of 3-pointers to pull Lincoln within 9 with under 2 minutes to go, but it didn’t get closer than that.