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Girls Basketball: Rich East reaches title game

Updated: January 20, 2014 8:35AM

Rich East found itself in an ideal spot Wednesday night at the Oak Lawn Varsity Girls Holiday Tournament.

With a win over Riverside-Brookfield, the Rockets would clinch a berth in Saturday’s championship.

Even a loss — barring a gigantic blowout loss — and Rich East would advance via a point differential tiebreaker.

But what’s the fun in a tiebreaker? The Rockets wanted to earn their berth in the championship with a win.

“We wanted it, and it feels better to win it,” Rich East’s Jordan Towery said. “We went out playing hard and wanting that win.”

Executing down the stretch in a big fourth quarter, Rich East took down Riverside-Brookfield 62-55, winning its pool and advancing to Saturday’s championship at noon against host Oak Lawn.

Ashley Dennis finished with a hard-fought 21 points for Rich East (6-4). Towery (19 points, 5 steals) and Jada Banks (12 points) also contributed in the win.

“We wanted to show everyone we’re not the underdogs,” Dennis said. “We can win games and do anything that any other team can do.”

The Rockets certainly earned Wednesday’s win, heading into the fourth tied 42-all with Riverside-Brookfield. With the Bulldogs double- and triple-teaming Dennis in the post, Towery and Co. picked up the slack.

Towery finished with six points in the fourth quarter, Carmari Lloyd had six and Dennis scored five points as Rich East went up 49-43 and then 55-47 on the way to the victory.

For the Rockets, the defensive focus on Dennis was nothing new, just something they keep working on.

“We’ve had experiences like that with other teams,” Towery said. “When Ashley gets doubled, we need to count on other players.”

Rich East outscored Riverside-Brookfield 20-13 in the fourth quarter, with the Bulldogs committing six turnovers.

“We talked about playing as a team, passing the ball around,” Dennis said. “Be more disciplined and push the ball like we know we can, play at our own speed.”

Riverside-Brookfield (10-3) was paced by Samantha Bloom’s 25 points. Miranda Chavez added eight.

“Rich East beat us and hit the key shots,” R-B coach Dallas Till said. “We knew this tournament would be physical and rough, prepare us for the state tournament and the rest of our conference schedule. The girls are worn down, but they continue to give maximum effort.”

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