Girls Basketball: Joliet Catholic tops Quincy Notre Dame 70-59 in Class 3A semifinal
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org March 7, 2014 5:56PM
Notre Dame's Cassidy Foley (31) and Joliet Catholic Academy's Christina Ekhomu (3) during the first quarter of their IHSA girl's Class 3A semifinal game at Illinois State's Redbird Arena in Normal, Ill., Friday, March 7, 2014. Joliet Catholic Academy won the game, 70-59. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media
(at Redbird Arena, Normal)
Friday’s state semifinals
Burlington Central 26
Joliet Catholic 70,
Quincy Notre Dame 59
Third place: Burlington Central (27-5) vs. Quincy Notre Dame (29-4), 12:15 p.m. Saturday
Championship: Montini (33-2) vs. Joliet Catholic (28-2), 2 p.m. Saturday
Updated: April 10, 2014 6:44AM
NORMAL — Jasmine Lumpkin had a most interesting day for Joliet Catholic in its 70-59 victory over Quincy Notre Dame in a Class 3A semifinal Friday at Redbird Arena.
She was a star, a cheerleader, a coach and finally a very grateful teammate after the rest of the Angels held the fort for five minutes while she sat with five fouls.
“Man, I was nervous just sitting on the bench and watching my team,” Lumpkin said. “But I had the confidence in them, and I knew while talking to them that we could come together and get the job done. I’m just very proud of my team.”
Joliet Catholic (28-2) will play Montini (33-2) in Saturday’s championship game.
Friday, a starting five couldn’t have been more balanced.
Nicole Ekhomu led the Angels with 16 points, while Jnaya Walker and Lumpkin each had 15 points, Ty Battle 13 and Christina Ekhomu nine. Rebounding also saw the same balance, as Battle had seven, while Lumpkin, Nicole Ekhomu and off the bench Andriana Acosta all had six.
Nicole Ekhomu also made some pretty passes good for six assists.
Still, it was far from easy.
The Angels didn’t even score until Lumpkin hit a lean-in jumper with 3:56 left in the first period to cut an early deficit to 5-2.
The shot seemed to loosen Joliet Catholic up a lot as the Angels built a 15-10 lead by the end of the quarter.
“We had a couple of bad turnovers early, but we kept huddling up and just telling the girls it was a long game, to settle themselves down and they’d be fine as the game progressed,” Joliet Catholic coach Ed Schodrof said.
Notre Dame (29-4) never would catch up, but behind Mary Beth Hugenberg (25 points) and Kristen Gengenbacher (21 points) the three-time defending state champion (one in 3A and twice in 2A) kept clawing away with a pressure defense that did create some havoc.
“There probably have only been three, maybe four teams all season that stretched the floor on us — two of them being Young and Marian,” Schodrof said. “They helped us prepare for this game.
“We were excited when we saw the tape. I though it would be our ability to break their pressure or their ability to stop us that would win the game. I think that was the fight within the fight.”
The press created three consecutive steals early in the fourth quarter as Notre Dame cut a 55-44 deficit to 55-51. Lumpkin, meanwhile, committed her fifth foul with 5:18 remaining.
“What went through my head was, ‘That that girl is our first rebounder,’ so I knew that I had to step up,” Nicole Ekohomu said.
Ekhomu immediately grabbed two, but Notre Dame kept coming, and got to within 58-57 with 3:08 remaining on a layup by Hugenberg.
Then, in the pivotal play of the stretch run, Notre Dame’s Cassidy Foley went for a steal at midcourt but was called for a foul. Battle, who drew the foul, hit both ends of a 1-and-1.
Joliet Catholic, with Lumpkin cheering from the bench, then took control as Walker drove for a layup and also hit two free throws, and Nicole Ekhomu added three points.
“Jasmine was the biggest cheerleader after she fouled out,” Schodrof said. “In the huddle she probably did a better job than the coaches of settling the team down, encouraging them to make short passes, post the longer ones and to finish it off and win it.”
And they did it as a team.
“We stress (teamwork) a lot,” Walker said. “And especially with Jasmine out of the game, everybody had to step up. We just played.”