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Maine South had three points of emphasis heading into its nonconference game with Marian Catholic Tuesday in Park Ridge.
“We were trying to eliminate No. 1 (Teniya Page) from driving, No. 21 (Ashton Millender) from shooting and No. 15 (Megan Walsh) from getting offensive rebounds,” Maine South coach Mark Smith said. “Two of the three things we failed miserably.”
Millender scored 16 of her 21 points in the first half and Page attacked the lane to the tune of 14 points, five rebounds and five assists to power No. 4 Marian Catholic (21-1) to a 62-36 victory.
“It’s almost as if we didn’t scout them,” Smith said. “I was frustrated early. We didn’t want Millender to get open looks. When we had a hand in her face, she wasn’t nearly as effective. I was disappointed that we didn’t have a hand in her face early and we weren’t communicating as well as we should have been.
“We normally don’t play that poorly in this gym,” he added. ”I was shocked how we came out, and once you dig yourself a hole like that…we had a really, really good second quarter, but when you have a real good second quarter and you look up and you’re still down 10, that’s frustrating.”
If it was any consolation, Maine South (21-3) did manage to keep Marian Catholic’s Megan Walsh off the offensive boards, but the 6-foot-1 senior still finished with 16 points including eight in the third quarter after the Hawks had cut a 29-12 deficit to 31-21 at halftime.
But Millender’s aerial assault in the first half, which included four three-pointers, gave the Spartans more than enough breathing room.
“They were playing a zone and we just had to move the ball to the open person,” Millender said. “I just had to find the open spots in the zone. After my first shot, if I hit it I keep shooting. But if I miss it, I got to keep shooting, too.”
Jacqui Grant had 20 points and nine rebounds and Regan Carmichael added eight points for Maine South, which was outscored 18-8 to open the third quarter.
“We kind of let one slip at Christmas,” Marian Catholic coach Annie Byrne said. “Rolling Meadows shot phenomenally in the fourth quarter, and I think we realized from that point we didn’t want to feel like that again. We didn’t want to lose to a team that we know played well but that we could have beaten.
“A big turning point was our victory over Rock Bridge (Md.),” she added. “With girls, everything is confidence. Once you get a little, you get a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more. The kids are just comfortable in their roles and comfortable in what we’re asking from them.”