Girls Basketball: Oak Lawn defeats Mother McAuley to win regional title
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media February 20, 2014 8:58PM
Oak Lawn players celebrate their IHSA Regional Championship, February 20, 2014. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 21, 2014 2:21AM
Oak Lawn’s Jannah Mahmoud stood at halfcourt, her arms wrapped around a regional title plaque.
This was a moment she won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Mahmoud and her Spartans teammates had earned this celebration Thursday night by defeating Mother McAuley 55-48 for the Class 4A Oak Lawn Regional title.
“I can’t even tell you,” Mahmoud said with a smile. “This has been our goal all season; more than conference, we wanted the regional. It’s been our goal forever. I don’t have the words.”
Oak Lawn (27-1) won its first regional title since the 2006-07 season, advancing to Tuesday’s Bloom Sectional opposite either Marist or T.F. North.
That’s next week, though. For now, Oak Lawn can appreciate a night when seemingly nothing went wrong. Mahmoud (9 rebounds) finished with 13 points, including a crazy buzzer-beater to close the first quarter. After picking up a loose ball, Mahmoud drilled a three-pointer from three-quarters court to put the Spartans up 14-7 after one.
Mahmoud had one more buzzer-beater in her pocket, the second just a midrange jumper, to close the third quarter. That gave Oak Lawn a 41-29 edge.
“There’s something special about this group,” Mahmoud said. “I love them all.”
In playing with a double-digit lead for much of the second half, Oak Lawn did so without its leading scorer and floor general LaTondra Brooks (15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals), who was on the bench with four fouls.
Brooks’ backcourt mate. Brooke Annerino (10 points), a four-year varsity player, stepped up into the spotlight. Annerino’s calmness helped Oak Lawn kill clock in the fourth period while her fast-break bucket off her own steal extended the lead to 48-32 with 6:24 to go.
“We’ve worked so hard for this. It’s an awesome feeling,” Annerino said. “Without LaTondra, we know what we have to do. We have a talk and work as a team just like we’re taught.”
McAuley (18-9) cut the deficit to single digits late but never quite could get over the hump. The Mighty Macs had an uncharacteristically off night from the floor, shooting 19-of-60 overall and 5-of-21 from three-point range.
Elizabeth Nye battled through foul trouble, finishing with 16 points and three assists before fouling out late in the fourth. Jasma Williams added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Macs.
“The shots didn’t fall, and there was nothing we could do,” Nye said. “Oak Lawn played great, but I’m so proud of what this team has done. This team, this season meant more than any one win.”