GAMER: MAINE WEST 57, LA 46
Late in the third quarter, Addison Bendery made a steal near the half-court line and flew downcourt with the ball.
Displaying her sprinter’s speed — the Loyola Academy junior is a two-time state qualifier in track and field — the speedy Bendery was off to the races.
But just as she picked up her dribble and put up a layup, Maine West’s Angela Dugalic — all 6-foot-4 of her — came out of nowhere and batted down her shot.
“Didn’t see that coming,” said Bendery, following LA’s 57-46 setback to Maine West in the Class 4A girls sectional title game at Maine East on Feb. 22.
The same could be said of Bendery’s play. The 5-6 reserve guard, usually a defensive ace, was a pleasant surprise for the 25-6 Ramblers. She came up with some of her best basketball of the year against the top-seeded and 30-win Warriors.
“Addison gave us a real spark tonight,” said LA head coach Jeremy Schoenecker. “She did a get job all of the court.
“She did a nice job of keeping us in the game,” he added. “She was a little tentative earlier in the season. But we kept talking to her. We knew what she had in her. I think she’s really going to help us out next year.”
Bendery’s best stretch came in the last half of the third quarter, when the left-hander scored on a couple of driving layups. In limited time, she finished with six points, three steals and one rebound.
LA’s best effort was turned in by Celia Satter. The junior forward, who nailed three three-pointers, led the Ramblers in scoring (15 points).
One of her biggest buckets came off an inbounds pass from Julia Martinez (9 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists) just as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter.
That basket cut Maine West’s advantage to 39-36 and kept it anyone’s game.
But, a thrilling ending never materialized. Early in the fourth quarter, Maine West (30-1) went on a 6-0 run to go up by nine points. The Warriors then put the game away by going 8-for-8 from the foul line in the final two minutes. They finished the night making 21 of 23 free throws.
“We just didn’t have enough tonight,” said Schoenecker. “We like to hold teams in the 40s. And we weren’t able to do that.”
Maine West used balanced scoring to put 57 points on the board. Four Warriors finished in double figures: Dugalic (16 points), Rachel Kent (14), Allison Pearson (10) and Alisa Fallon (10).
Meanwhile, Satter praised MW’s defense.
“The only way to describe their defense is to say that it’s disciplined and undisciplined at the same time,” Satter said. “They always know where to be on the court. They’re really smart.”
It took a stellar team to take down the Ramblers, who have won 46 games and two regional championships in the past two seasons.
“We’ve worked so hard. So this really stinks,” said Satter. “We will just take this game and use it as motivation for next year.”
“There’s no reason to hang our heads,” Schoenecker added. “We had an awesome season.”