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Joliet Catholic explodes in second half

01/24/2013, 8:47pm CST
By Tim O’Brien

Joliet Catholic freshman Nicole Ekhomu scored 21 points to lead her team to a 54-38 win over Tinley Park Thursday.

Tinley Park's Caitlin Sudduth (left) takes the ball to the hoop against Joliet Catholic's Mary Susan Rouse during their basketball game in Tinley Park Thursday, January 24, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

The halftime clock winded down Thursday at Tinley Park and Joliet Catholic coach Ed Schodrof and assistant Chris Smith waited patiently on the bench.

As for the Angels, they were M.I.A., still in the locker room.

“We came out flat (in the first half), and the coaches told us to stay and talk among ourselves,” Joliet Catholic’s Nicole Ekhomu said. “It comes better from each other than the coaches. We had a talk, and we came out, and we ran.”

Trailing by a point at halftime, the Angels exploded in the second half with Ekhomu leading the way. The freshman star scored 15 points while team defense shut down host Tinley Park in a 54-38 nonconference win.

Ekhomu finished with 21 points to go with efforts from Mary Susan Rouse (13 points) and Jasmine Lumpkin (9 points, 6 rebounds) for Joliet Catholic (19-4). The Angels blitzed out of the halftime locker room, turning a 23-22 deficit into a 35-25 lead courtesy of a 13-2 run.

Tinley Park (16-8) answered with its own run, Caitlin Sudduth scoring five points as part of a 7-0 run. Saddled with four fouls, Ekhomu watched the run from the bench.

After Rouse closed the quarter with a wing three-pointer, Ekhomu came back in the fourth with a vengeance.

“I was trying to play straight-up defense and help my teammates out,” Ekhomu said. “I was hitting my shots so my teammates were looking for me.”

Were they ever. The freshman opened the fourth with a fast break layup, hit a corner three-pointer, and drilled a pull-up jumper as part of a 9-0 run that put the game away for good. Rouse added a long baseline jumper as part of the run.

“Tinley played great in the first half, and I thought we didn’t,” Schodrof said. “We can’t just play two quarters and expect to beat teams. Tinley gave us everything we could handle, and I thought they would, especially on their home court.”

Sudduth’s 15 points led Tinley with Diamond Beatty scoring 13 points. The Titans scored just 15 second half points and managed only six points in the fourth quarter.

Joliet Catholic shot a sizzling 13-of-22 from the field in the second half.

“JCA outlasted us a little bit,” Tinley coach Jason Becker said. “Our effort was amazing. We just need to run our offense a little better, hit some shots and be more precise.”

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