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Westminster, Elgin Academy notch wins

01/09/2013, 10:25pm CST
By Gene Chamberlain

Westminster Christian defeated Larkin and host Elgin Academy earned a win over Harvest Christian in Round 2 of the Elgin City Classic.

Larkin's Quixmia Washington (20) reaches in for a ball on Westminster Christian's McKaila Hays (13) during the first quarter of their game in the Elgin City Classic girls basketball tournament at Elgin Academy Wednesday. January 9, 2013. The Warriors won

Westminster Christian’s girls came into the first Elgin City Classic tournament as odds-on favorites, and Wednesday night in the second round the Warriors played like a dominant team in every aspect from opening tip to final buzzer.

McKaila Hays unleashed a three-point barrage, Claire Speweik controlled the area around the basket, and the Class 1A Warriors held Larkin star Quixmia Washington to two points through three quarters in a 50-23 rout of the Class 4A Royals at Elgin Academy.

In the second game, the host Hilltoppers opened Elgin City Classic play by getting a strong closing effort from Kaitlyn Pearson and Trennedy Kleczewski to pull away from Harvest Christian in the fourth quarter, 33-27.

“We talked a lot about how when we play high energy, push the tempo, we are a much better basketball team,” Westminster coach Ken Flickinger said. “Tonight we really did a much better job than (Tuesday). We came out and got after it.”

The Warriors (12-4) scored the game’s first 12 points, led 16-4 after a quarter, and turned it into a complete blowout by scoring the last 15 points of the first half in a run that eventually hit 17-0 early in the third quarter.

Hays hit four three-pointers en route to 16 points for the game, and had three in the first-half explosion.

“I had scouted them and they didn’t do too well with their three-pointers so we thought we could pack the lane on them, but then they came out and hit the outside shots and it threw us off,” Larkin coach Ruben Flores said. “It wasn’t a good night for us.”

Speweik had 13 points and nine rebounds while Maddie Versluys had 10 points and 11 boards for Westminster Christian, which is playing without three players, including starter Kinsley Donahue due to a school mission. The most impressive stat might have been holding Washington to eight points, through three quarters. Amber McGhee wound up leading Larkin (1-16) in scoring with 11 points.

“We have to play team defense and tonight we played really good team defense,” Flickinger said. “Quixmia is a really good player. I’ve seen her in AAU and know her game pretty well. For us what we did was play solid as a team and make them not take the shots that they like to get.”

Elgin Academy (8-7) will get the next crack at Westminster in the tournament, Friday at Harvest Christian.

The Hilltoppers continued to show improvement Wednesday by beating Harvest Christian (2-14) for the second straight time and second time in three outings.

“We’re getting a lot more confidence,” Elgin Academy coach Bill Rodriguez said. “We’re a very young team (nine freshmen, three sophomores, one junior, one senior) and we showed more poise at the end of the game than we had earlier this year.”

Pearson, a freshman guard, came up with all eight of her points in the second half, including six on layups after she made steals, to help the Hilltoppers pull away down the stretch.

Kleczewski, a sophomore guard, sank a key layup with 1:25 left after Harvest Christian had whittled a 10-point deficit to 28-25. Then Pearson made her last steal and layup to provide a 32-25 lead with a minute left.

Kleczewski finished with 10 points, all over the final three quarters. Sam Siddiqui had eight boards and five points for the Hilltoppers, who defensively contained Harvest scoring threat Kylee Knox, holding her to four points. Rachel Ostdyk led Harvest with nine points.

“Too many turnovers,” Harvest coach Kelly Friestad said. “We tried to force the ball into bad situations and weren’t getting the shots we needed.”

The loss left Harvest Christian 0-2 in the tourney. Westminster is 2-0, Elgin 1-0, Larkin 0-2 and Elgin Academy 1-0.

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