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Molly McDonagh didn’t forget her performance in last year’s championship game at Wheaton North’s Neibch Holiday Classic.
Glenbrook South’s leading scorer this season didn’t score a single point in last year’s final, a loss to Waubonsie Valley. McDonagh watched as her older sister Colleen scored a game-high 20 points in her final tournament appearance.
Colleen has since graduated, but Molly took advantage of her second chance Saturday night. McDonagh scored a game-high 21 points and had 10 rebounds as No. 22 GBS defeated the host Falcons 59-40 in a battle between the tournament’s top two seeds.
It was a reversal of fortune compared to a year ago when Waubonsie Valley beat the Titans 38-35.
GBS won its third Neibch Classic title after wins in 1996 and 2003 and McDonagh joined Schaumburg’s Amanda Kelly as the only players from this year’s tournament to be named as repeat all-tournament selections.
“I was pretty nervous,” McDonagh said. “I was not nervous going into this tournament last year. I totally choked in the championship game. In the first half, I was nervous coming out. I missed a few baskets. I’m so excited, especially after coming so close last year.”’
The victory gave GBS coach Steve Weissenstein his 401st career victory. Weissenstein won No. 400 in Friday night’s 52-28 victory over Lyons in the semifinals.
The Titans (15-3) trailed 22-20 at halftime, but pulled away from Wheaton North (11-4) by scoring the first seven points in the third quarter as part of an 11-2 run. Jessica Beamon (12 points) scored the Falcons’ first three baskets in the second half, but GBS already led 35-28.
“The girls played so well in the second half,” Weissenstein said. “They hung around in the first half. We struggled, but didn’t finish. We got the ball inside and got to make some easy baskets.”
GBS dropped its standard 1-3-1 zone defense to switch to a man-to-man defense to isolate against Wheaton North’s leading scorer, Mandy Traversa, who scored a team-high 14 points in the semifinals against Glenbard South. The strategy worked as Traversa was held to two points on 1-of-6 shooting. She missed all four of her 3-point attempts.
“Teigan Flaws played good defense (against Traversa),” Weissenstein said. “She’s long and she did not let her get any good looks.”
Traversa’s only basket game on a back-door layup to give the Falcons a 10-8 lead late in the first quarter. Chrissy Baird led Wheaton North with 15 points and four rebounds.
“No matter what (defensive) formation we are in, we win as a team,” Flaws said.
In last year’s final, McDonagh went 0 for 3 from the field and missed her only free throw attempt. One year later to the day, she shot 10 of 18 and was 1 of 2 at the line.
“I think the defense (helped), playing man-to-man in this game. We made the adjustments we needed to make,” McDonagh said.
Lindsey Oldshue, who scored one point in last year’s championship game, contributed 18 points against the Falcons, including 8 of 13 from the free throw line.
The Titans outscored Wheaton North 19-10 in the third quarter and allowed only one basket in the final five minutes of the game.
“They are so long on defense. It’s tough to shoot over them,” Wheaton North coach David Eaton said. “They are a good 3-point shooting team. Tonight, we didn’t hit our baskets.”