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Sandburg's Rachel Ruzevich (22) puts a shot up between Homewood-Flossmoor's Candace Hicks (33), Jaiveonna Norris (2) and Chardae Greenlee (1) during their basketball game in Flossmoor Thursday, January 31, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Homewood-Flossmoor played with a noticeable sense of urgency in Thursday’s 62-41 victory over visiting Sandburg, considering the Vikings weren’t in contention for the SouthWest Suburban Blue title.
Then again, winning it all — at least until the state playoffs — isn’t the be all, end all for H-F’s Jaiveonna Norris.
“If we would have lost this game we would have been tied with Lincoln-Way East (for second),” Norris said. “This game was important because it was for second place in conference.”
Norris finished with 20 points, Sydni Johnson recorded 16 points and Candace Hicks scored 11 points to go with 11 rebounds as the Vikings improved to 15-9, 9-3.
Sandburg (13-11, 6-6) was led by Carly Katalinic (13 points) and Samantha Youngwirth (12).
The Vikings were pretty much second to none in just about every category from start to finish in the third meeting between the two teams, and it was the 5-foot-11 Norris who did the leading.
Norris had three three-pointers and 13 points in all during a first quarter in which H-F established a 19-12 lead.
“When I hit my first shot I just thought, ‘Keep shooting and it’ll keep going in.’ My teammates helped me by trying to get me open and passing me the ball,” Norris said.
Johnson picked up the workload from there, hitting two treys in the second period as H-F opened a 33-20 bulge.
The biggest difference, aside from the score, was H-F’s ability to rebound its own missed shots. The Vikings outrebounded Sandburg 20-8 in the first half and scored 12 of their 33 points via putbacks.
“We do a lot of boxing out drills in practice. It gets pretty intense,” Johnson said. “We just try to get to the basket and crash the boards on offense and defense.”
The final rebounding tally showed H-F with a 38-17 advantage.
“When we beat them the first time at Hillcrest (Holiday Classic) we rebounded well,” Sandburg coach Chris Hellrung said. “But they really made a conscious effort when we played at our place and beat us pretty bad.
“We watched tape and worked on rebounding, but give them credit. They have great athletes and went after the rebound. Hopefully, the next time we play a team like H-F we’ll give a better effort rebounding-wise.”