The shots were not dropping, and the number of fouls kept rising.
Playing for the league championship, the Mt. Greenwood eighth-grade girls basketball team needed a kick of energy from the bench.
And the subs for the Eagles were more than ready to show off the team’s depth.
Receiving contributions from all eight girls on the roster, Mt. Greenwood-Blue defeated St. Catherine of Alexandria 33-10 on Nov. 3 at Marist High School to win the South Suburban Basketball League (SSBL)-North division championship.
“When our subs come in off the bench, no one notices. Our subs are so good,” guard Maeve Egan said with a smile. “We always have to work our hardest.”
The victory completed a remarkable three-year stretch as the Eagles finished undefeated in SSBL for a third straight season dating back to sixth grade.
Coach Mark Egan chalked up the dominance to perseverance and a frightening work ethic all season.
“I don’t remember a girl missing a practice in probably four years,” Egan said. “They love to practice. They don’t love our dribbling drills we do for 15-20 minutes, but they do them anyway. One to eight, they can all dribble, so we don’t have trouble with a press.”
Molly Funk (10 points, 6 rebounds), Morgan Feil (8 points, 8 rebounds), Egan (7 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds), Sam Molenhouse (6 points, 6 rebounds) and Keira Ohse (2 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) led a balanced attack for Mt. Greenwood.
Sydney Eastman (2 rebounds), Alyssa Kortz (4 rebounds, 2 steals) and Brianna Hill (10 rebounds, 2 blocks) also contributed.
“Off the bench, our girls are ready to play,” Kortz said. “We never underestimate teams; so, we come in strong every game, and we’re prepared for what’s coming.”
Dominating the boards but unable to capitalize as one shot after another rolled off the rim, Mt. Greenwood led 9-5 at the half against a scrappy St. Catherine squad.
At the start of the second half, the Eagles finally started to click.
As part of a 16-0 run over the first six-plus minutes, Funk and Feil drilled 2 3-pointers apiece; Egan added 3 points; and Ohse split 2 free throws.
On Feil’s second 3-pointer, Mt. Greenwood extended its lead to 25-5 at the 8:57 mark of the second half.
“We always make sure we’re not fouling the other team,” Maeve Egan said. “That’s the biggest thing that helps us. We need to focus and not get so riled up. We play our game and shoot like [we’re in the lead]. We can’t get in our heads.”
Mt. Greenwood outscored St. Catherine 24-5 in the second half.
“The special thing about this group is our teamwork,” Feil said. “We’re strong on the boards, shooting, and we always work together.”
As the Eagles settled in, Coach Egan said his team went to work.
“They were tearing up before the game because it was their last game,” Egan said with a laugh. “We talked about being over-amped. We’ve played in a lot of championship games, so we had to control them early. We relaxed in the second half and played like they’re supposed to. St. Catherine always plays us tough.”
St. Barnabas 19
St. Germaine 12
Playing for the SSBL-North seventh-grade title, St. Barnabas scored only 3 second-half points but relied on its defense to squeak out the win.
“The girls really have a goal to play as a team,” said St. Barnabas Coach Jack Burke. “That’s what they did. Everyone contributed. We asked them to step up and play tough defense. They stepped up to the challenge.”
Mary Kate Hayes led the Buckeyes with 6 points. Meghan Burke (3 rebounds) and Alex Haywood (4 rebounds) added 4 points each.
Reganne Riordan (9 rebounds) scored 3 points, and Anna Cruz (3 rebounds) added 2 points.
The Buckeyes roster includes Ally Haymaker, Sally Kennedy (3 assists, 3 rebounds), Ava Looney (4 rebounds), Sophia McKenzie and Nora Wolfe-Halpern.
St. Barnabas led 16-7 at halftime.
“This is a great group. With all 10 kids, we’ve got a great group of athletes on the floor at all times,” Burke said. “The level of competition is just really good in this league.”