Refreshing, invigorating, whatever your preferred adjective may be, there was really only one word that could aptly sum up Maine West’s performance in the state semi-finals.
The Warriors made a statement in their return trip to Redbird Arena, a 56-32 win over Hononegah to advance to the state finals for the first time since 1993 where Mother McAuley awaits.
“This is a much different feel from last year so we are really pleased to be where we are tonight,” said Maine West head coach Kim deMarigny. “It was a great team effort by everybody on our team.”
“For me just playing on a college court was refreshing,” added Maine West’s Angela Dugalic. “From last year we were more experienced and we knew we had to come out with a good mentality. Last year we were scared and this year we were ready.”
Maine West’s down state experience was displayed early and often as the Warriors jumped out to a 14-3 lead just three minutes into the contest.
The Warriors were paced by junior Dylan Van Fleet, who finished with an astonishing 23 point, five rebound, five assist and seven steal performance, with 17 of those points coming in the first quarter alone.
“I was just very happy to get those chances and that I was able to convert them and look for my teammates it other places,” said Van Fleet on her performance.
As dominant as Maine West were on the offensive side of the ball, they were equally good defensively.
Despite Hononegah’s Jordan King dropping 20 points which included an eight point spell in 90 seconds, Rachel Kent and the rest of Maine West did well to limit the Marquette recruit to 7-23 from the field.
“We knew we had to focus on her because she’s a really good player and she scores a lot of their teams points as you saw tonight,” said Kent. “We put a lot of focus on her and played team defense on her.”
Though the win was never in doubt, the exceptional performance was a relief to a Maine West side who bowed out in the semi-final round last year to Geneva.
“As coach D said, it’s refreshing,” joked Dugalic. “Last year I want to remember it because I don’t want to have that feeling again, this is a good feeling, I like this feeling, so I would like to have this feeling in our last game tomorrow.”
In addition to Van Fleet’s standout performance, Maine West received important contributions from Angela Dugalic (11 points, six rebounds), Vanessa Reyes (10 points), and Rachel Kent (seven points, eight rebounds, five assists).
“If you look at us, we had to focus on Jordan King a lot because though they have very good players, she is the heart of their team.” said Van Fleet. “To be able to know we had multiple hearts, that we all are in it together is so invigorating.”
On the other side of the bracket waiting for the Warriors are the Mighty Macs from Mother McAuley, who had an impressive performance of their own in their semi-final game against Benet.
The Warriors and the Mighty Macs have not met this season, but there is some history between the two teams as they met way back in 1987 in the quarterfinal round.
Whatever the result may be, both Mother McAuley and Maine West have made their respective schools proud, as shown by the fan support backing both teams.
The tight knit squads, are not only playing for themselves, but their community as well. A fact they are both well aware of.
“This is extremely exciting for all of us to have a chance to play for a state title,” concluded Coach deMarigny. “We do hope that we’ve made Maine West proud, Derril proud, the city of Des Plaines, we are not just playing with ourselves and we would like to finish the job that we started. On October 30th we set our goals, we have one left.”
Maine West and Mother McAuley will tipoff the final game of the 2018-19 season tomorrow night at 7:15.