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12-13-12 – Joliet West’s Aaliyah Stepney picks up a loose ball Thursday against Lincoln-Way Central in New Lenox. Photo for Sun-Times Media by Jean Lachat.
Joliet West coach Kevin Michaels has seen his team race out to halftime leads.
More worrisome though, he has also seen the Tigers give that lead right back.
So with Joliet West holding a 10-point advantage heading into the second half Thursday at Lincoln-Way Central, Michaels had a request.
“We tend to relax in the second half and give the other team their confidence back,” Michaels said. “We told the girls to go as hard as you can for three minutes, and you will take them (Central) out of the game.”
Throwing a backcourt press at the host Knights, Joliet West used a quick 10-0 run over the first three minutes of the second half to pull away for good in a 47-31 win in the SouthWest Suburban Blue.
Monica Barefield had nine points and TreAnna Perry scored eight for Joliet West (3-5, 1-3) to lead a balanced attack. Ten different players scored for the Tigers.
“We had to tighten up defensively,” Perry said. “We put our two best players out at the front of the press, and it helped turn it around defensively.”
Holding a 20-10 halftime lead, the Tigers responded to Michaels’ request. A pressing, trapping defense produced four turnovers in less than three minutes.
Perry and Barefield had two layups apiece off those turnovers with Perry also pulling up for a jumper at the top of the key to spark the quarter-opening run. Joliet West outscored Central 15-3 in the third quarter, forcing seven turnovers overall.
“It’s always fun, even inspiring, when you get a steal defensively,” Perry said. “We didn’t start the game tight defensively on them, but we came out firing in the second half and were able to get a win.”
Candace Finnin and Madeline Bendarz scored 10 points apiece for Lincoln-Way Central (3-5, 1-2) in the losing effort. The Knights shot just 12-of-56 from the floor.