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Girls Basketball: Lincoln-Way North pulls away from Bloom

Updated: January 7, 2014 6:35AM



The back-and-forth nature of the fourth quarter between Bloom and Lincoln-Way North indicated a down-to-the wire finish.

Then North’s Ellen Graham ended some of the suspense.

With North ahead 46-45 and less than two minutes left, the 6-foot-2 senior made two free throws and cut to the basket for a layup to give the host Phoenix a 50-45 lead Thursday night on their way to a 54-49 win.

“Toward the end it was pretty close. Had a really nice backdoor cut from Sam (Pietruszynski),’’ Graham said. “Our team is so balanced. Everyone steps up. It’s not just the seniors.’’

Graham grabbed 11 rebounds — five in the crucial final period — and scored all 11 of her points in the second half.

“I think it was a slow start for me,’’ Graham said. “(I) went into the halftime huddle, amped up the girls a bit.’’

“We struggled all night rebounding,’’ North coach Jim Nair said. “Ellen did a great job in the fourth quarter of possessing the ball for us, and she was able to pull down some big rebounds.’’

Two free throws by Kayla Kieklak (10 points, 7 rebounds) upped the lead to 52-45 with 40 seconds to play.

Pietruszynski and Kayla Horlacher each scored 11 points for North (3-2). Lanie Hicks had eight, including 4-of-4 from the line in the fourth quarter.

“I think the second half the difference was we attacked the basket more,’’ Nair said. “Got to the free-throw line in the second half.’’

Down by six early in the second half, Bloom put together an 11-2 run to go ahead 33-30 midway through the third period.

Bloom (2-4) kept the game close to the end despite finishing only 10-of-22 from the line.

“Free throws. That’s been a big Achilles’ heel for us,’’ Bloom coach Ron Newquist said. “We’re averaging missing 12 to 14 free throws a game, and it’s killing us.

“They made some big shots at the end. I thought we hustled really hard. We’re young and we’re immature, but we’re getting there. We’re getting better.’’

Danielle King had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Ariana Dampier contributed 11 points and 12 rebounds.

“Dampier did a much better job here,’’ Newquist said. “She has to have more confidence because the kid can score and rebound.’’



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