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Maine East's Elanta Slowek takes her turn cutting down the net following Friday evening's win over Maine West. Maine East clinched the CSL North title with the win. | Brian O'Mahoney/for Sun-Times Media
Maine East 48, Maine West 44
The Maine East girls basketball team — a program that coach Karol Hanusiak said hadn't finished in the top half of its conference before this season — beat Maine West to clinch the CSL North title in Park Ridge on Friday night. The Blue Demons (19-6 overall, 9-1 CSL North) turned their four-point advantage at halftime into an 11-point lead at the end of the third quarter, and they held on to win by four points.
Maine West (16-9, 8-2) led 12-8 at the end the first quarter behind senior center Brittany Collins, who had nine points and six rebounds in the game's first eight minutes. Maine East senior point guard Jazlene Gonzalez picked up three fouls in the game's first 3 minutes, 52 seconds. Hanusiak took a gamble and put Gonzalez back in to start the second quarter. Gonzalez scored the quarter's first points with a layup in transition, and she stole the ball and dished to sophomore guard Janelle Alba Garner for two points on the ensuing possession. Gonzalez, who finished with a team-best 15 points, hardly ever came out the rest of the game. She didn't pick up any fouls after the first quarter.
Collins repeatedly heard chants of “Overrated, overrated” from the Maine East student section, but she once again staked her claim as the CSL North's most valuable player. Collins finished the game with 20 points and 16 rebounds. She had 37 points and 19 rebounds in Maine West's 57-55 win over Deerfield on Feb. 7. That win set up Friday's battle between the two teams tied atop the conference standings.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Blue Demons struggled at the line for much of the game in front of a rowdy crowd, finishing 12 of 21. Maine West took advantage in the fourth quarter – the Warriors cut their deficit to 44-41 with 29.2 seconds remaining – but Alba Garner sunk all four of her free throws in the final 30 seconds to put it away. With the win, Maine East avenged a 47-26 loss to Maine West on Jan. 10.
“When the buzzer went [off], we fell to the ground and we were all crying. There's no way to explain it.” — Alba Garner on what winning the CSL North means to Maine East