The state of Illinois should be on high alert.
It’s not too often that a regular season non-conference game can tell you a whole lot about a team’s state title chances, but Maine West’s 60-51 win over Beaver Dam (WI) during the Fremd Chicagoland Invitational Showcase did just that.
The Warriors (8-0) had high expectations coming into the season, but their win over the number one team in Wisconsin and the defending state champions proved that the Warriors are legitimate contenders for a class 4A state title.
Maine West’s win also handed Beaver Dam their first loss since the 2016 state playoffs, and their first regular season loss in over two years, ending the Golden Beavers 45 game winning streak.
“They are a phenenomnal team, they have bigs, they have guards, they have the complete package,” said Maine West head coach Kim deMarigny. “Our girls we’re determined to play hard at all times, to not rest, and if we did rest it was to be on offense, there was to be no rest on the defensive end.”
From the opening tip, both teams were at full tilt, and at times it was difficult to tell if the audience was watching a basketball game or a track meet.
Maine West easily kept up with Beaver Dam, looking exponentially more energized then they did earlier this week against GBS.
“Yea, we ran a little this week,” said deMarigny with a laugh. “We ran a little bit more this week just to make sure we were conditioned. That’s something that you can control, and if we have a chance to control something we really want to do our very best to be prepared. These girls we’re determined though and they have the biggest hear of any team I’ve coached.”
Despite the frantic pace, both teams only managed to score 12 points a piece after the first quarter, largely due excellent on ball defense and running shooters off of the three point line.
Then, in the second quarter Maine West got a boost from an unusual lineup when coach deMarigny opted to play the 6’2″ Jessica Dugalic and the 6′ Jessica Riedl at the same time.
The two post players played off of each other brilliantly, with Riedl taking up space in the middle which allowed Dugalic and the guards to operate from the outside.
Riedl had an especially strong showing, scoring 8 of her 12 points in the first half to help Maine West take a 34-24 halftime lead.
deMarigny said: “You know, Jess hasn’t played much this year just because of our schedule but we know we have another starter sitting on the bench. She did a heck of a job today coming in, getting rebounds, finishing around the rim and doing her job.”
To nobody’s surprise, Beaver Dam did not go away quietly. They cut the Maine West lead in half just minutes into the third quarter, but every time it looked as though Beaver Dam would break through, Alisa Fallon came up with a huge basket.
Fallon would finish the game with an incredible stat line of 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists and hit the three pointer with five minutes left in the fourth quarter to comfortably put Maine West in front.
“Great players make great plays, and Alisa is a great player,” said deMarigny. “She fits in so well, she’s very unselfish with the ball so you can’t always assume she’s going to take it herself and that’s what a good player does.”
The Maine West defense would finish the job, as they only allowed Beaver Dam to score four points over the final five minutes of the game to secure the 60-51 win, and giving the Warriors their signature win.
In addition to Fallon’s big game, Riedl finished with a near double-double of 12 points and 9 rebounds, and Rachel Kent added 11 points for the Warriors.
Maine West will return to conference play for their next game, hosting Highland Park on Tuesday Dec. 5.