Girls basketball: Garner leads Rich South past Oak ForestDeAsia Garrett (15) Rich South High School battles Emily Naegele (22) and Katie Swanson (11) Oak Forest High School during varsity basketball Monday night November 14, 2011 in Oak Forest, Illinois. | Art Vassy~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 14, 2011 9:44PM
Stepping to the free throw line late in Monday’s season opener with a chance to seal a win, Rich South’s Keila Garner did what she always did.
Block everything out and act like it was practice in an empty gym.
The senior guard drilled all four of her free throw attempts in the final three minutes and also hit a huge 3-pointer in Rich South’s 56-50 win at Oak Forest.
“You just have to relax and think it’s your first shot (of the game),” Garner said. “Block (the yelling) out and know you’re going to make it. It will be easy then if you shoot it like there’s no pressure.”
Garner finished with 21 points and seven rebounds for Rich South (1-0) with CiErra Garrett (14 points, 8 steals, 8 rebounds) chipping in.
Kelly McEathron and Katie Swanson (6 assists) led Oak Forest (0-1) with Emily Naegele adding eight points and 10 rebounds.
The season opener was the fifth straight between the two schools.
“Oak Forest’s a good team to open up to,” Rich South coach Brian Mays said. “We’ve just got to focus on our free throws. Defensively we have to back people up.”
Despite missing countless point blank attempts and struggling to hold onto the ball, the Stars still held a 31-20 lead early in the third quarter. Swanson and Naegele sparked a run that brought Oak Forest back into the game, even taking a 35-34 lead.
McEathron drilled a 3-pointer with 3:15 to go in the game to put the Bengals up 47-44, but Garner answered at the other end with her own shot from long range. Garner’s free throws put Rich South up 49-47 with 2:20 to go.
Never relinquishing the lead, Garner hit two more free throws down the stretch with Tierra Webb also hitting three of four.
Rich South committed 28 turnovers with Oak Forest turning the ball over 30 times.
“Too many mistakes,” Oak Forest coach Steve Schanz said. “It didn’t come down to one play. It was the 20 or so turnovers we had before that.”