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St. Thomas More coach Chris Mennig knew what he was facing by bringing his 2013 Class 2A state runner-up to Young on Saturday.
“I’m not drinking my own Kool-aid,” he said. “I know I shouldn’t expect to come in here and get a ‘W.’ I’m a little more disheartened to see our overall fight in the third quarter.”
After squandering most of a 14-point lead over the final five minutes of the second quarter, No. 2 Young (6-0) outscored St. Thomas More 22-7 in the third period and rolled to a 73-43 victory at the ChiTown Showdown hosted by the Dolphins.
Foul trouble and suffocating defense limited St. Thomas More’s 6-foot-4 sophomore Tori McCoy to just 10 points and 10 rebounds. On the other hand, her Mac Irvin Lady Fire teammate, 6-6 Khaalia Hillsman, led Young with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
“I have a lot of respect for Tori,” Hillsman said. “She’s going to be a great player in the future. She’s already a great player. I wanted to play really hard against her. I think she respects me, but I wanted to solidify it.”
The Dolphins led 26-12 early in the second quarter when the Sabres closed the half on a 17-7 run to pull within 33-29 at the break. But after surrendering the first basket of the second half, Young closed the third quarter on a 22-5 run.
“The second half looked more like how we wanted to play,” Young coach Corry Irvin said. “I just thought in the second quarter we made some bad decisions, turned the ball over a couple of times, missed some defensive assignments. In the second half we took care of that.”
Tanita Allen scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds and Madinah Muhammad added 13 points for Young, which played all but two minutes of the first half without sophomore point guard Kiara Lewis, who picked up two early fouls.
“We have really had to play like that, so we kind of had to adjust,” Irvin said. “I think we’ll grow into that as time goes on.”
Lexi Wallen had 10 points and nine rebounds and Liz Bristow added 12 points for St. Thomas More (10-2).
“Take nothing away from Whitney Young,” Mennig said. “I felt like they would have our number. But I thought we’d compete a little better and make it at least mildly entertaining to keep the crowd here.
“Our execution in the third quarter was poor,” he added. “I look forward to getting back to practice to work on it. I can’t simulate this downstate. It’s a tremendous opportunity. Nobody in Champaign and nobody in 2A is doing this. It definitely prepares us.”