Girls Basketball: Latin gets over hump, tops Walther Lutheran
Updated: February 14, 2012 9:45PM
The fifth time was the charm for Latin.
After losing in the sectional semifinals in each of the past four seasons, the Romans finally got over the hump Monday night by upsetting Walther Lutheran 57-48 at the Class 2A Timothy Christian Sectional semifinals.
Latin (22-7) will attempt to win its first sectional championship Thursday night when it faces Raby, which beat Chicago Academy 39-27 in the other semifinal.
“This was a big win for us but it’s not the end-all and be-all,” Latin coach Max Rouse said. “We’ve got to come ready to play and win on Thursday, too.”
The Romans were certainly ready for Walther Lutheran, which had won sectional titles the past two years. The Broncos (18-12) scored the first basket of the game but senior guard Nikki Dizon answered with a three-pointer for Latin, which built an early 13-6 lead and led the rest of the way except for brief stretches in the second and third quarters.
Dizon, a four-year starter who is Latin’s all-time leading scorer with over 1,800 career points, played a huge role for the Romans, scoring a game-high 23 points to go with nine rebounds and three assists.
“It’s kind of unreal,” Dizon said. “It feels great. I’ve never played on a team where all 11 people wanted something so badly and we definitely want to make history at our school.
“All 11 of us sat down and talked about our goals. Every single one of us said we wanted a sectional and we all worked really hard. There was one day where our coach wanted to give us a break and we all said, ‘No, we want to practice.’”
The practice paid off because, for the first time in Dizon’s career, she hasn’t had to carry the bulk of the load. Junior forward Nicole Heckman added 12 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, while sophomore guard Lizzie Marks scored 10 points and sophomore forward Caroline Kaplan chipped in eight points and eight boards.
All four, along with sophomore guard Bridget Cato, played tough defensively in shutting down a Walther attack that relies on speed and offensive rebounding.
“They’re a really great team and very athletic and tough,” Rouse said. “We needed to give our best defensive effort and I think we did that.”
The Romans also went away from their strength on offense and committed only 17 turnovers, just eight of which came in the second half.
“We knew that they’re a very clutch team and that to stop them we had to take care of the ball,” Dizon said. “We know they got most of their points off turnovers on their presses, so we just said to hold the ball, we don’t need to fast break every single time even though that’s our main offense. We said we’ll keep composure and take care of the ball.”
Dizon scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to break a 36-36 tie and tallied 13 of her team’s 21 points in the frame. Her three-point play with 2:37 left gave Latin and 50-41 advantage and Walther could get no closer than six after that.
Melanie Ransom had 12 points and nine rebounds to lead the Broncos, who made only 6 of 21 free throws. Anna Strong added 11 points for Walther, while MaShayla Kirksy had nine points and Isemene Edeko contributed seven points and 13 rebounds.