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Girls Basketball: Marian Catholic tops Oak Lawn in overtime for sectional crown

Marian's TeniyPage (1) celebrates with AshtMillender after their sectional championship. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

Marian's Teniya Page (1) celebrates with Ashton Millender after their sectional championship. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 1, 2014 10:03AM



Oak Lawn made a heroic comeback.

Ashton Millender, however, had a heroic overtime.

That gave final say to Marian Catholic, which defeated Oak Lawn 67-62 Thursday night in an overtime classic for the Class 4A Bloom Sectional title.

Millender, who scored 12 of Marian’s 14 points in the extra session, finished with 24 points. Dajhae Mullins added 10 points and 13 rebounds and Teniya Page 15 points as the Spartans (26-4) earned a trip to the Illinois Wesleyan Supersectional on Monday night against Edwardsville (28-1).

Oak Lawn (28-2) was led by LaTondra Brooks (23 points), Jannah Mahmoud (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Brianna Markusic (10 points).

For Millender, being a state playoffs hero is a familiar story. During last season’s run to the Class 4A state title, she made a buzzer-beating three-pointer to shock Marist in a sectional final.

This time she wore the hero’s robe after an 0-of-3 first half in which she scored just one point.

“I guess I just had to (be a hero),” Millender said. “As a senior on the floor, I just have to step up there. I knew as a shooter I should keep shooting and get confidence in my shots and get the basket and get free throws.”

Millender didn’t miss in overtime, scoring on a three-pointer, a three-point play and six free throws. Her three early in the extra period came after Oak Lawn went in front 55-53 on a steal and driving layup by Brooks.

“I was just looking to score,” Millender said.

Another step-up hero for Marian was Mullins.

Not necessarily a big scorer, she got the Spartans off to a good start in the first quarter with a three-pointer and a three-point play. She also was their most effective rebounder, her 13th and final one coming after a missed free throw by Oak Lawn’s Brooke Annerino with Marian clinging to a 63-62 edge.

“That’s my comfort zone,” Mullins said of the paint. “I just have to get the job done. Since the beginning of the season coach said the only way we were going to lose a game is if we didn’t rebound.”

Oak Lawn’s effort may have even been better than any of its 28 wins. The Spartans hurt themselves by missing myriad layups in the first half and made just four of their first 12 shots from the foul line. But they kept battling, cutting an 11-point deficit down to six by halftime and staying within that margin after three periods behind tremendous midrange shooting and solid board work by Mahmoud.

Crunch time belonged to Brooks.

Oak Lawn trailed 53-46 with 43 seconds remaining when Brooks nailed a three, tied up Page for a jump ball and possession, hit two free throws with 29 seconds left, and then swished two more with seven seconds showing to tie the game at 53. She also started the overtime with the drive to the basket and converted a three-point play before fouling out with a minute remaining.

“We didn’t give up,” Brooks said. “I was proud of everybody for stepping up. Everybody played a major role. Even the people on the bench, they made us want to get more into the game. We just never gave up.”

After Brooks fouled out, Annerino brought the Spartans from five down to within 63-61 with a three-pointer. Millender, however, locked the door.



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