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Maine South made its debut at the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic a memorable one on Wednesday, scoring the first eight points and cruising to a 50-27 victory over host Dundee-Crown.
The No. 20 Hawks (13-2) shook off some rust and adapted to the unfamiliar surroundings and opponent in impressive fashion to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals, where they will take on Mother McAuley, which knocked off defending tournament champion Bartlett 50-37.
“We were a little rusty early but we have a lot of offense to draw upon and I thought we could have run our high-low offense all day,” said Maine South coach Mark Smith, whose team hadn’t played in nine days.
Indeed, Maine South ran the high-low to perfection, using precision passing to set up numerous layups. Senior guard Regan Carmichael paced the offense with 18 points, while 6-3 senior center Jacqui Grant was an unstoppable pest all over the floor, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks.
“I think we played pretty solid,” Grant said. “Of course, there’s always stuff that we can fix, but I think we did a really solid job. Regan took it to the basket and [there were] a lot of assists, a lot of sharing the ball. It’s a good game to kind of ease into the tournament.”
The Charger Classic, now in its 30th year, is a new experience for the Hawks, who usually play at the State Farm Classic in Bloomington. Dundee-Crown was an unfamiliar venue and the Chargers an unknown opponent.
“This tournament is definitely different than the State Farm Classic,” Grant said. “We’re honored to be in this tournament to play teams like this.
“Thank goodness we’re on the other side of the bracket, but there’s a lot of teams from the CSL. But I think we’ll be okay. It’s a good experience for us to play different teams with different styles.”
The Illinois-bound Grant has brought a different level of play to the court in each of her four years on varsity. She demonstrated new-found proficiency in both passing and perimeter defense, often venturing out beyond the three-point line to pressure the Chargers.
Nothing epitomized that more than her steal at the top of the key midway through the second quarter, which she turned into a coast-to-coast layup to cap a 15-4 run that gave Maine South a 26-11 lead. Grant scored on another layup later in the quarter, then added six more points in the third quarter as the Hawks extended the gap to 44-18.
Mackenzie Duffy scored six points while Hailey Schoneman, Katherine Miles and Emilie McGuire each added four for the Hawks, who outrebounded Dundee-Crown 36-20.
Lauren Lococo led Dundee-Crown (1-11) with eight points, four rebounds and four steals. Jillian Wiechmann added six points.