L-W East Girls Basketball Rides D-Fence to Fifth Straight Regional Title
Lincoln-Way East's ball-pressure defense set the tone in the early going of the Griffins' 61-36 girls basketball victory over district rival Lincoln-Way North.
Two words: Ball pressure.
East’s Caitlin McMahon came up with a steal after the Phoenix moved the ball on the perimeter for more than a minute during the opening possession of Thursday night’s Class 4A regional championship game at Lincoln-Way Central.
McMahon scored on a layup 11 seconds later. And the Griffins were off and running toward their fifth straight regional championship.
“We really took this game very seriously,” Lincoln-Way East coach Jim Martin said. “They’re good. They have 23 wins. Jim (Nair) is a great coach. He’s got great assistants. They do a nice job. I think we just wore on them defensively.”
East guard Taylor Johnson stuck to North playmaker Leigh Larocco like a glove. East’s Amy Jacobsen wouldn’t allow North 3-point shooter Ashley Weringa room to catch the ball, let along launch a rocket.
Jacobsen pitched a shutout on Weringa (0 points, 0-for-1 shooting).
“Just pressure the ball—we knew Larocco had a bum leg,” Martin said. “She’s coming off an ankle injury and wasn’t at 100 percent. But just pressure her. And another thing, you’ve got to give kudos to Amy Jacobsen. I know she shot the ball well, but I don’t think Ashley Weringa scored tonight.
“We told her, ‘Don’t let her catch it.’ Ashley is one of their threats. Same thing with Sam (Pietruszynski). We wanted to make sure they didn’t catch it and shoot it. We pressured them. I’m real pleased with the way we rebounded with Caitlin (McMahon) and Meaghan (McMahon) and our girls that came off the bench.
“And, then, when you knock down shots like we did (17-of-25 in the first half, 68 percent), you’re living good. We’re living good right now. And we’re playing well. That’s where you want to be at the end of the year.”
Lincoln-Way East takes a 25-4 record in Tuesday's semifinal game against Homewood-Flossmoor at the Sandburg Sectional. The two teams split during the regular season.
The Griffins' Caitlin McMahon scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter against North. Jacobsen drained three 3-pointers and went on to rack up 15 points. Johnson scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
But two words said it all for East: Ball pressure.
“We just really wanted to be intense, get up in the passing lanes and make sure their shooters didn’t catch the ball,” Jacobsen said.
Lincoln-Way North turned the ball over five times in the first quarter and 25 times in the game.
“We prepared for their pressure, and we put in a couple of new wrinkles to attack their pressure,” Nair said. “We didn’t do the best job executing. And they came down and executed on the offensive end, got open looks and knocked them down.”