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Lincoln-Way North was a team at a standstill going into the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s SouthWest Suburban Red showdown against host Andrew.
The Phoenix, enjoying an 11-point lead at the half, was hanging on by a two-point fingernail after scoring just one in the third period.
Time for a change.
Putting some extra power underneath resulted in points on its next four possessions. That pretty much was the ballgame, with the Phoenix prevailing 42-34.
Valen Manns had 15 points and six rebounds, Ashley Weringa 11 points, Kayla Kieklak nine points and Ellen Graham nine rebounds for North (19-4, 9-2), which maintained its spot at the top of the division. Andrew (17-5, 7-3) was paced by Molly Franson (18 points) and Tiana Karopulos (11 points, 13 rebounds).
Weringa hit two three-pointers, but the 5-foot-11 Mann put on a power show underneath in the first half, with five baskets, in addition to two free throws. It was 25-14 at intermission.
“Just trying to stay strong and doing a lot of post feeds at practice,” Mann said. “I’ve also been doing a lot of lifting to get stronger.”
Andrew put a double-team on Mann in the third period, and it totally disrupted the Phoenix, which shot 0-of-9 from the field. On the offensive side for Andrew, Franson began to assert herself, driving for two three-point plays and eight points as the T-bolts got to within 26-24.
North had an answer to the double-team on Mann for the fourth quarter.
“We put in three posts, which made us very dominant down low,” Mann said. “We had a lot of screens, a lot of movement. It had a good flow to it.”
Mann opened the period by converting a pass from Weringa into a layup. Graham followed with a short jumper, after which Kieklak went to the line and hit two free throws. Not long after, Weringa drained a three.
Once again, Andrew was chasing.
“They hit a couple of more shots there and I think we got a little tired,” Andrew coach Bobby Matz said. “We battled.”