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Lauren Carlson’s shooting will never be mistaken for a work of art.
Neither will her rebounding, which can best be described as rough and tumble.
But what the Mother McAuley forward’s game lacks in beauty, it more than makes up for in effectiveness.
Carlson, a 5-11 junior, was the linchpin of the Mighty Macs’ 50-37 victory over Bartlett in Wednesday’s opening round of the 30th annual Dundee-Crown Charger Classic. She scored a game-high 19 points and muscled her way to 10 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive glass as the Mighty Macs (10-2) advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals, where they will play No. 20 Maine South (13-2), which routed Dundee-Crown 50-27.
“Lauren just worked,” Mother McAuley coach Ashley Clanton said. “Everything she does isn’t pretty. It can be ugly but she works. She gets some ugly points and does what you need her to do.”
Carlson’s impact was felt most in the third quarter, when she imposed her will on the bigger Hawks, the defending tournament champions. She scored six points and pulled down five boards, four of them offensive, as McAuley outscored Bartlett 18-4 in the period to turn a 24-21 halftime deficit into a 39-28 lead.
“I just do what I need to do,” Carlson said. “Especially in the second half I just kind of forgot about what I looked like doing it and I just did what I needed to do to get us ahead and keep us ahead.”
Carlson, who finished 6-of-12 from the floor and 7-of-10 from the free-throw line, received plenty of help from teammates Alyssa Siwek and Bridget Bilek, who keyed McAuley’s defensive pressure that helped turn the tide.
Bilek scored five of her six points in the third quarter, while starting point guard Siwek added five points, three assists, and two assists. Siwek sat out the entire second quarter with two fouls and the Mighty Macs lost their touch without her, shooting 2-for-16 from the floor.
“[Siwek’s foul trouble was] big and she knows it’s big and it’s something she’s learning to get better at,” Clanton said. “You’ve got to trust a senior to be able to get back out on the floor and not pick up that third one.”
Siwek didn’t pick up her third foul until midway through the fourth quarter and by then the game was out of reach as Bartlett (8-8) never drew closer than nine points. Siwek started the final stanza with a steal and a layup off a give-and-go with Bilek and then assisted on a bucket by Carlson that made it 43-30.
“We were bad for a long time,” Clanton said. “We needed the third quarter, that’s for sure. We turned up our pressure a little bit. Offensively we weren’t hitting very well so the pressure got some open court stuff going.”
“We just had to stay aggressive and we had to go back to what was working more in the first quarter than what we did in the second quarter,” Carlson said.
Siwek finished with 12 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds for the Mighty Macs, who also received seven points from Elizabeth Nye.
Ally Giampapa led the Hawks with nine points and five rebounds. Nicole Gerdevich added seven points and Alyssa Hernandez had a game-high 12 rebounds.