Girls Basketball: Joliet Catholic defeats Bishop McNamara for Class 3A Elite Eight berth
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media February 27, 2014 9:22PM
Updated: February 27, 2014 10:30PM
The two dominant regular-season wins over Bishop McNamara were nice.
For Joliet Catholic’s Jasmine Lumpkin, those victories were build-up, just prepping for the main event.
That game came Thursday night, and Lumpkin intended to leave her mark all over the end result.
By scoring 27 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, Lumpkin powered the way to Joliet Catholic’s 78-70 win over Bishop McNamara for the Class 3A Lincoln-Way West Sectional title.
“Nothing compares to this game,” Lumpkin said. “Everyone was going to remember this game and how we responded. This was the one that mattered, and we stepped up to the plate.”
Joliet Catholic (26-2) advances to Monday’s Lewis Supersectional against Washington, a 65-42 winner over Peoria Notre Dame. The Elite Eight appearance is the first for the Joliet Catholic program since the 1984-85 season when it was St. Francis Academy.
“This was just a huge basketball game for the whole school,” Angels coach Ed Schodrof said.
Nicole Ekhomu added 22 points Thursday for the Angels, with Christina Ekhomu scoring 13, all in the second half.
It was Lumpkin taking control immediately for the Angels. The Michigan State-bound forward shot 7-of-7 from the floor in the first quarter, scoring 17 points as Joliet Catholic took a commanding 32-14 lead.
“(I was) focused and ready to play,” Lumpkin said. “My teammates believed in me and got me the ball. I wasn’t shying away from it.”
With 24 minutes still to play, Bishop McNamara wasn’t going away quietly. Led by Khadaizha Sanders, the Fighting Irish chipped away, but where the Angels didn’t have a response in the playoffs last year, they had plenty on Thursday.
Christina Ekhomu scored all 13 of her points in the second half, including 7-of-7 shooting from the free-throw line. Her younger sister Nicole sealed the game late when Bishop McNamara cut the deficit to five points with 48 seconds to go. Nicole Ekhomu stole the ball at midcourt and went in for a layup, putting Joliet Catholic up 74-67.
“This was the one that counted. I’m beyond excited right now,” Christina Ekhomu said. “I knew I had to help get the game back under control. I’m glad I could play a part in this.”
Sanders finished with 35 points for Bishop McNamara (24-6), while Kyleigh Payne had 10.
“It’s hard to come back against a team like that,” Bishop McNamara coach Ramon Daguinsin said. “The kids showed a lot of guts, a lot of character coming back. Other than us going downstate, you couldn’t ask for a better season.”