Girls Basketball: It’s Class 4A showdown time: Oak Lawn vs. Marist and Marian Catholic vs. Lincoln-Way East
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org February 24, 2014 9:12PM
Janet Meyers posted a 256-152 record as Oak Lawn girls basketball coach. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 26, 2014 6:22AM
Oak Lawn won’t be anybody’s favorite to win the Class 4A Bloom Sectional.
Outside of Oak Lawn, anyway.
But there’s one thing the Spartans (27-1) should bring in that they might have been lacking entering the postseason: a healthy amount of respect.
“Who did they play?” shouldn’t be a question anymore.
That was impressively answered in a two-game sweep at the Oak Lawn Regional. The Spartans beat Lincoln-Way Central and its run-and-gun Grinnell offense 89-52, and went toe to toe with physical, methodical Mother McAuley and came away with a 55-48 conquest.
The win earned Oak Lawn the right to play Marist (13-15) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the first of two sectional semifinals. In the other, defending Class 4A state champion Marian Catholic (24-4) meets Lincoln-Way East (24-3).
It’s Oak Lawn’s first appearance in a sectional since 2007. The Spartans have been unheralded despite piling up the most wins in program history. It stemmed from a less-than-loaded schedule.
Oak Lawn coach Janet Meyers, though, was confident going into the season.
“We were returning four all-conference starters,” she said. “We had good balance, height in the post (Jannah Mahmood and Brianna Markusic), a four-year point guard in Brooke (Annerino) and a phenomenal playmaker and defensive player in LaTondra (Brooks). We had a lot of the pieces to the puzzle.”
The Spartans captured the season-opening Glenbard East Tournament.
“That was good for us,” Meyers said. “After that, even though we hadn’t played the toughest schedule, we were beating teams pretty well and getting the most out of practices.
“I never took it easy on them at practice. And I think it showed after the Lincoln-Way Central game. It was a physical, fast-paced game, but our kids were able to bounce back and play tough against Mother McAuley.”
Tough enough to build as much as a 16-point lead.
“I think we shocked some people,” Meyers said. “It’s an exciting time for the girls and the school. We’re going to approach this (Marist) like we have all along; do what we do best, and make the little adjustments that we have to make.”
They’ll have to get out to the three-point line, where Marist’s Brooke Wyderski proved deadly to T.F. North in Friday’s 67-41 victory.
Wyderski was 5-of-5 from beyond the arc in the third quarter. She finished with six threes and 31 points.
The RedHawks have been on a postseason roll after a tough 2-6 stretch at the end of the regular season.
“They don’t make very many mistakes,” Marist coach Mary Pat Connolly said of Oak Lawn. “I think Oak Lawn and us are evenly matched teams player for player. I look at common opponents, and that was Hillcrest, which we both lost to at about the same time of the year.
“Whenever you get to this type of game, I believe it comes down to defense, preparation and who plays best on that one night.”
Lincoln-Way East and Marian Catholic met Nov. 19 in the season opener, with Marian prevailing 67-37 behind double-digit scoring by Ashton Millender, Jerrell Mathews and Dajhae Mullins.
Spartans coach Dan Murray isn’t expecting another blowout.
“(They) present a number of challenges,” he said. “They shoot the ball very well, have size and are very hard-working. We will have our hands full and just hope to play well.”
Counting two forfeit victories over Homewood-Flossmoor, the Kara Krolicki-led Griffins are 13-0 since Jan. 9.
“It has been fun to watch this team grow and continue to develop into a really good basketball team,” East coach Jim Martin said. “I believe we are a better team than we were in November.
“Marian is one of the most versatile teams we’ve played. The key is to play 32 minutes and come out ready to play.”