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Ashley Weringa, of Lincoln-Way North, shoots over the reach of Sandburg's Samantha Youngwirth for the Oak Lawn Holiday Tournament Championship Match, Thursday, December 20th, 2012 in Oak Lawn, IL | Gary Middendorf~for Sun-Times Media
Lincoln-Way North had the height advantage and used it well in Thursday’s 44-31 victory over Sandburg in the title game of the Oak Lawn Varsity Girls Holiday Tournament.
But that wasn’t all that the Phoenix hit the Eagles with.
North added four three-pointers to its dominance underneath and defensively forced Sandburg into 20 turnovers and 24 percent shooting en route to a second consecutive tournament title.
“This tournament is really cool for us,” MVP Ashley Weringa said. “Since we won last year we wanted to keep (the title) as defending titles. And that’s what we did.”
Weringa finished with 16 points, Sam Pietruszynski seven and Valen Manns (7 rebounds) and Ellen Graham six each as the No. 7 Phoenix improved to 11-1. Sandburg (5-7) was led by Carly Katalinic (12 points) and Rachel Ruzevich (8 points, 5 rebounds).
North threw a knockdown punch in the first period, outscoring the Eagles 18-2. Weringa had a three and two twos, while Leigh Larocco scored five points. Sandburg committed 10 turnovers and shot 1-of-8 during the period.
The Eagles found some life in the second quarter, rallying to within 20-13 after Catalinic converted a pass from Rachel Distor into a three-point swish.
North, missing inside on a few occasions, then went to the perimeter. With 1:23 left in the half Pietruszynski drained a three. Seconds later, so did Weringa.
The double-digit lead was restored, this time for good.
“Yeah, we thought our outside shooting was going to be guarded and we were looking to go inside because of our huge height advantage, obviously,” Weringa said. “But it turned out that we did have a lot of looks outside because they ended up going zone.
“It was kind of surprising, but Sam started hitting and I think it caught on to everybody.”
The Phoenix went back inside for back-to-back layups by the 6-foot-1 Graham to start the second half. North doubled up on the Eagles 36-18 by the end of the third period.
For Sandburg, it was either feast or famine. The Eagles made nine total field goals for the second and fourth quarters, but only one each in the first and third.
“When we really buckle down on defense our offense comes to us,” Ruzevich said. “At times (Thursday) we weren’t in spots we needed to be in, and made some mistakes. But when we buckled down on defense and got into the transition, the offense came.”