By: Luke Drase
To say the Maine West girls basketball program has had a successful couple of years would be a tremendous understatement.
With their 57-46 win over Loyola, Maine West won their second consecutive sectional championship, something that hasn’t been done at the school since the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
But despite their recent accolades, it wasn’t too long ago that the Warriors endured one of their worst seasons in program history.
“To be honest, if you told us three years ago that we would win a sectional, I would never have believed you” said Maine West senior Catherine Johnson, who was a Freshman when Maine West went 9-19 in the 2014-15 season. “Especially two years in a row, no way.”
Fellow senior Alison Pearson, who also played on varsity since her freshman year concurred: “It just shows what Maine West girls basketball is all about. We prepare and play like we should be here and we just keep building and building.”
Maine West had the look of the more experienced team straight from the opening tip. The moment never seemed to be too big as they got out to a great start on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors led by as many as nine points in the first quarter before Loyola settled into the game and went on a 11-2 run to tie the contest up at 15 early in the second quarter.
However, Maine West’s big game experience showed up yet again, as the Warriors regained and extended their lead to six points before halftime.
“Last years experience helped a lot,” said Maine West head coach Kim DeMarigny. “I think the girls knew they would make a run so I think we have prepared mentally for it and just helps us withstand it and overcome it.”
Loyola would close the gap to three points yet again at the third quarter behind Celia Satter’s 15 point performance, but every time the Ramblers made any sort of run, Maine West seemed to have an answer.
In the fourth quarter, all of Maine West’s starters stepped up in one way or another. Alisa Fallon (10 points, five rebounds) hit a huge pull-up three to get things going, Rachel Kent (14 points) and Angela Dugalic (16 points, 10 rebounds) took turns keeping Loyola’s Julia Martinez scoreless in the final quarter, and Pearson and Johnson helped ice the game with late free throws.
“Playing in this game last year just gave more confidence,” said Pearson. “We knew how to handle the situation, we knew how to calm down and just play our basketball.”
Before anyone in the gym knew what happened, Maine West went from a mere three point lead, to up 18 with a minute and a half remaining allowing their subs to close the game out.
With the win, Maine West moves on to play Lake Zurich in the the Hersey super-sectional on Monday evening, but despite beating the Bears 53-21 in the regular season finale, Maine West realize that at this stage, nobody is to be taken for granted.
“This team is very goal oriented and our focus right now is one at a time,” said DeMarigny. “We dont overlook anyone, at this time of year if you do that and you wash your uniforms and go home. We’ll prepare for Lake Zurich as if we’ve never seen them before.”
Maine West may have been happy with their sectional title last year, but there is a different set of expectations this season, which starts an ends with getting down state for the first time since 1993.
Johnson concluded: “The big difference between this year and last year is that last year it kind of felt like enough to win sectionals, but this year it’s definitely not enough.”