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Fast start will decide how St. Joe finishes

02/13/2013, 7:13pm CST
By Chris Vavra

St. Joseph knows what it needs to do to be successful in regional play this week. Now it’s a matter of execution.

Westchester, 02/08/13--St. Joseph's Chanel Brown fights for the rebound with Oak Park River Forest's Hailey Hoye. St Joseph High School hosted Oak Park River Forest High School in girls basketball Friday night. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media

The basic game plan for St. Joseph in the 3A girls regional basketball playoff was summed-up by Chanel Brown.

“We need to be boxing out, closing out and playing good defense,” the junior forward said.

The Chargers host their 3A regional this week and were set to play Aurora Central Catholic on Tuesday. The winner faces either Nazareth or Payton in Thursday’s regional final.

The Chargers are looking to make up for a disappointing 8-20 regular season that ended with a 58-50 home loss on Friday to Oak Park-River Forest. That setback highlighted their struggles on offense that have plagued them all season.

“We need to get our game going, especially around the post,” center Shaakera Jones said. “We’re getting the ball inside, but we’re not finishing and we’re not rebounding like we should.”

The Chargers have scored 40 points or less nine times this season and went 1-8 in those games. Coach Jim Maley admits his team’s ability to shoot from outside isn’t as strong as the Chargers’ post play, which has allowed defenses to sag on Jones, Brown and forward Laci Beemon.

“We need to play together and play as a team,” Brown said. “Our offense will come along and our team will come together.”

Jones agrees: “The main thing for us is chemistry. Our chemistry as a team got a lot stronger and that’ll help us for the playoffs.”

The Chargers will also need to get off to a better start than they did against the Huskies. The Chargers fell behind by 17 in the first half as they struggled to get their shots to fall inside or at the free-throw line.

“We got off to a slow start,” Maley said. “We didn’t come out with the right energy and we’ve had that problem all year. We played a lot better in the second half, but we need to play the full 32 minutes.”

The Chargers players are looking forward to defending their home court.

“It’s a big advantage for us,” Brown said. “We want to feed off that energy the crowd gives us.”

Maley thinks St. Joe’s schedule has the players ready.

“We played a lot of tough teams this year and we played some real good games. We want to finish strong on our home court for our seniors and for the fans.”~.

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