Girls Basketball: Janee Thompson helps East earn McDonald’s win

Story Image Janee Thompson of Young comes out to play in the McDonald All American game for the East team. Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: March 28, 2012 10:15PM

Janee Thompson rode out a perfect string.

Thompson, who led Young to an undefeated Class 4A state title run, had seven points, two steals, two assists and a block as the East team built a 16-point lead and withstood a furious West rally for the 79-78 victory in the McDonald’s All-American Game Wednesday night at the United Center.

Bashaara Graves’ free throw off an offensive rebound with three-tenths of a second remaining proved the game-winner. Katie Collier‘s two free throws with 16 seconds forged the game‘s third and final tie at 78.

Alexis Prince scored 15 points to lead the East. Bria Holmes contributed 13 points and Brittney Sykes added 12.

Bolingbrook star Morgan Tuck ignited the West’s rally that nearly overcame the double-deficit disadvantage. Tuck scored 12 of her 18 points in the second half.

Her teammate, Canadian Nirra Fields, scored 20 points. Niles West star Jewell Loyd struggled from the field, missing eight of her nine shots. She compensated by grabbing a team-best nine rebounds for the West. “A lot of my shots were in and out,” Loyd said, “but I was able to contribute in other ways, with my defense and my rebounding.”

Thompson scored on a double-pump up-and-under in the opening minutes as the East scored the game’s first 11 points. “We just had great chemistry the whole time, in our practices and the time leading up to the game and it just spilled over,” Thompson said. “You saw that the way we shared the ball. It was almost effortless out there.”

Loyd’s only basket, a three-pointer from the top of the key, ended the West’s four-minute scoring drought to begin the game. “You could see from that time on, the nerves we had just kind of rolled off,” tLoyd said.

Zion-Benton and West coach Tanya Johnson thought Loyd’s shot enabled her group to get into a better offensive groove. “I think the kids just settled down,” Johnson said. “I think early on, we took early shots, and [got caught up] in he magnitude of the game of the game and playing on the United Center floor.”

Johnson‘s Zion-Benton team lost to Tuck‘s Bolingbrook team in last year‘s Class 4A state final. She was happy to be on Tuck‘s side this time. “She‘s a coach‘s dream,” Johnson said of Tuck. “She was a monster on the boards and she just plays so hard.”

The Connecticut-bound Tuck, the Sun-Times Player of the Year, was matched against another Connecticut recruit, 6-3 national player of the year Breanna Stewart, who scored nine points. Tuck was 5-for-7 from the floor in the second half.

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