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Girls Basketball: Lincoln-Way East stops Sandburg

Updated: February 25, 2014 6:29AM



Kara Krolicki didn’t shock anybody with her clutch play Thursday during Lincoln-Way East’s 46-38 SouthWest Suburban Blue victory over host Sandburg.

She certainly didn’t surprise Eagles sophomore Victoria Stavropoulos.

“I’ve had the pleasure of playing with her in travel basketball,” Stavropoulos said with a smile. “She’s a phenomenal player. It’s sad seeing her graduate from a teammate’s standpoint, but as an opponent she can ... the best of luck of her.”

Krolicki finished with 19 points, while Dana O’Grady had eight and Claire McMahon six points and six rebounds for East (14-4, 5-2). Sandburg (12-10, 3-5) was led by Sam Youngwirth (9 points), Julia Ruzevich (8) and Stavropoulos (7).

Krolicki more than doubled anyone else on the court scoring-wise, and in the back-and-forth affair she was the one who shut the door whenever Sandburg was on a roll.

After a three-point play by teammate Haley McCabe, Krolicki nailed a three-pointer to further propel the Griffins to 14-0 run to end the first half and erase what was a 17-7 deficit.

In the third quarter, Sandburg was on an 11-0 run and within 31-30 when Krolicki went back to back with baskets to end the period strong for East.

Finally, the Eagles again were on a spurt and got to within 40-38 late on a three-pointer by Jessica Merino before Krolicki hit a running jumper and on the next possession two free throws.

Some players just have a knack.

“It’s true,” East coach Jim Martin said. “It’s a true knack for her. She just loves the game. I know it’s a cliche about being a ‘gym rat,’ but she really just understands the game, too.

“Sometimes she is hard on herself. A couple of times she’ll pass up (a shot) and dribble, and I’m like, ‘You’ve got to keep shooting it.’ But she’s our go-to. If we’re going to run something we’re going to try to get it to her. And she just has a knack for getting to that open spot and hitting a big shot for us when we need it.”

Nobody hit anything for East early in the game, and on defense the Griffins’ man-to-man defense didn’t have a lot of success stopping Sandburg, which twice converted three-point plays, by Youngwirth and Ruzevich, and got a three by Stavropoulos.

Martin switched from a man to a 2-3 zone defense in the second period. That seemed to freeze Sandburg.

“I really couldn’t tell you what happened (in the first quarter),” Krolicki said. “But it takes just one little spark to get our team going. We really feed off each other well, and start executing plays better.”

In this case, the three-point play by McCabe was a spark, and Krolicki’s trey brought the rally into full flame. Although there would be more point swings before all was said and done, the 14-0 surge and switch to a zone was the most important turning point.

“We expected their man and we went out and hard and we knew how to break that,” Stavropoulos said. “And we knew about their zone and that they would come with a 2-3, but we just had a big mental lapse there.

“We came out in the third quarter knowing what we were doing and worked from there during the comeback. We just missed a couple of much-needed shots (at the end).”



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