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Elmwood Park’s Joanna Bukowinski left no doubt she’s got game.
The 5-foot-5 senior guard reached a personal milestone and then led her team to a come-from-behind victory over St. Benedict Saturday in a game played at Triton College.
Bukowinski pulled up and swished a three-pointer early in the second quarter to put her over 1,000 career points. For an encore she scored all 15 of the Tigers’ fourth-quarter points to bring Elmwood Park (4-7) back from a six-point deficit and propel the Tigers to a 35-29 win over St. Benedict.
Bukowinski finished with 27 points (1,020 for her high school career), hitting four field goals and draining 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch after being held scoreless in the third quarter as the Bengals’ defenders stuck to her like glue.
“I wasn’t even really thinking about that (1,000 points), I just wanted a win,” said Bukowinski, who continues to play with an extremely sore Achilles tendon. “I told the girls we had to pick up the intensity and we barely ran any set plays we just played aggressively and pushed the ball and went hard to the basket.”
Bukowinski said she will play with the injury, which she sustained during a Thanksgiving tournament game, as long as she can, acknowledging that she can hardly walk at times after games.
“I’m not giving up on my team, I’m just going to play through it. This injury is not going to stop me” she said. “I can’t walk a day or two after a game, but I ice it and go to rehab with our trainer, who does a great job so I can keep playing.”
Assistant coach Kellye Stefanski, filling in for Elmwood Park coach Brian Linhart, said she is amazed many things when it comes to Bukowinski – from what she has accomplished during her years with the varsity, to playing with injuries, to providing a thrilling finish to Saturday’s non-conference contest.
“We were down and decided we had nothing to lose, it was do-or-die, so we just turned her loose in the fourth quarter,” Stefanski said of the unselfish star. “She picked up, motivated and inspired the team and got their intensity up in addition to reaching a milestone in her career. It’s an amazing accomplishment and she really worked hard for it.
“She plays through pain very well,” she added. “She played great today, great against Glenbard South (12 points in a 36-26 loss). She plays well with it, but she’s dealing with it. It’s only going to get better with rest and she doesn’t have it in her to rest during the season. She told me the other day she has nothing to look forward to after the season so she’ll kill herself now and rest later.”
St. Benedict (6-3) was led in scoring by Ashley Krysztopik with eight points, while Annie Tang put down six and Brittany Camana four. Amanda Tillich pitched in four for Elmwood Park.