Girls Basketball: Worth repeating: Mount Assisi a regional champion
By PHIL BROZYNSKI For Sun-Times Media February 13, 2014 10:52PM
The Mt. Assisi girls basketball team celebrates their Lisle IHSA Regional championship holding teammate Sabrina Miller (14) aloft with their trophy. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 14, 2014 6:25AM
Jess Moriarty will be shopping for her third school in three years in the fall with the closing of Mount Assisi. After attending Christian Liberty Academy last year, Moriarty transferred to Mount Assisi when her family moved from the northwest suburbs.
“I wasn’t a part of this last year,” the 5-foot-6 junior said.
She was a big part of it Thursday.
Moriarty had 13 points and 11 rebounds and helped Mount Assisi weather the loss of leading scorer Mary Kate Wetzel to foul trouble for most of the second half as the Eagles (13-17) stunned the hosts 52-42 to win the Class 2A regional in Lisle.
The regional title was the second in a row for Mount Assisi, which had never won a trophy in basketball in the school’s previous 62 years of existence prior to last year.
“I just wanted this so bad,” Moriarty said. “I think this means everything to the school. It’s closing, and to finish out our season with a regional banner, and hopefully more, this means everything to us and to the school. You just go after every loose ball, every rebound. I just wanted it.”
Mount Assisi coach Kelsey James, who will shopping for a new job after leading the Eagles to consecutive regional titles, could not say enough about Moriarty and her team’s defense.
“Jess definitely took over,” said James, who is in her fourth year as the school’s coach. “It’s exciting for her to win a regional with this team her first year here. She’s going to make sure she spends her time at Mount Assisi well, so she gets everything she can.
“And if you look at our team we’re all about 5-foot-5, so if we’re going to be good at anything, defense is what we’re going to be good at,” James added. “That’s what we’ve been stressing all year. In order for us to be successful, we have to get stops on defense, and they really bought into it today.”
A three-pointer by Terri Dearth (7 points) gave Mount Assisi a 13-10 lead after one quarter, but Lisle (19-10) finished the second quarter on a 7-2 surge to lead 23-21 at the break.
Monifah Davis (16 points) scored on consecutive possessions to give the Lions a 31-25 lead with a little more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter, but freshman Monica Tadros (7 points) scored twice and Moriarty scored on a rebound to pull the Eagles even at 31.
“We worked so hard to get that six-point lead, but we had a miscommunication on an inbounds play that we typically run, they get a layup, we turn it over, they score, we turn it over, they score, we turn it over, they score,” Lisle coach Nick Balaban said. “That would have been an opportunity for us to settle down and run some offense, but when that occurred we felt we had to pressure them. We just had some breakdowns. That was the story of how we played down the stretch this year.”
Tadros’ conventional three-point play and a Kathleen Murphy free throw gave Mount Assisi a 43-38 lead 2:15 into the fourth quarter, and Moriarty’s three-pointer from the right corner extended the lead to 46-38 with 3:55 left.
Lisle closed to within 47-42 when Wetzel picked up her fifth foul, but Moriarty made five straight free throws in the closing 1:46 to account for the final margin.
“I was definitely nervous,” said Wetzel, who had 17 points and seven rebounds. “I didn’t think that last foul was on me. I knew I had the prior four, but I didn’t think that was on me. Going out I was pretty emotional because I wasn’t prepared to end my season right there like that.
“But I trusted the girls,” she added. “They held us together during the second and third quarters when I wasn’t in there. I knew they could do it. They just followed what our coach told us. Stopping them on defense and keeping a hold of that ball.”
And holding tightly to the regional plaque, too.