Girls Basketball: Jahmia Phillips leads lead Hillcrest into title game at Rich SouthLincoln-Way North Head Coach Jim Nair calls out a play against Rich East at Rich South, Monday, November 21st, 2011 in Richton Park, IL. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 21, 2011 10:58PM
Last season as a junior, Hillcrest’s Jahmia Phillips had a very good mentor in how to control the middle in teammate Yolanda De La Torre.
With De La Torre now at Robert Morris College, it’s time for the student to become the leader.
Phillips was all of that Monday night in the semifinals of the Rich South Galaxy tournament, dominating in the paint as the No. 2 Hawks beat Rich South 76-52 to earn a shot at capturing their sixth consecutive tourney title.
Hillcrest (3-0) is to play Lincoln-Way North (3-0) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the championship contest.
The Phoenix advanced by winning Monday’s second semifinal over Rich East 54-36.
Phillips had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Shannise Heady 19 points, Samirah Ali 10 points, seven assists and three steals, and Dana Gettis four assists in Hillcrest’s win over Rich South.
The No. 9 Stars (3-1) were paced by CiErra Garrett (14 points), DeAsia Garrett (14 points), Tierney Lockett (10 points) and Kiela Garner (6 points, 11 rebounds).
Phillips averaged 8.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in 2010-11.
“I worked really hard (in the offseason) on my shot, a lot of things like that that make you a good player,” Phillips said. “Coach (John Maniatis) just tells me to stay strong and be aggressive.
“I’m just hoping to fill that spot for the team because we need the rebounds and the points to make up for what Yolanda did.”
Hillcrest’s early pressure resulted in a 9-0 outburst. Down 14-2, Rich South rallied behind 3-point shots by DeAsia Garrett, Tierra Webb and Lockett and got as close as 22-19 in the second period.
The Hawks, though, were able to survive that and the absence of Heady because of foul trouble for much of the third period.
That Lincoln-Way North hit its first 11 free throws to build an early lead against Rich East was no accident.
“We worked a lot on free throws before the game,” Phoenix junior Ashley Weringa said. “We knew that against this team that our outside shot would be kind of iffy, but we knew we could drive and get fouled. So we decided to work on them.”
North finished 18-of-21 for the game from the charity stripe. In that area, Rich East struggled, hitting just one of its first nine attempts.
Still, the game was close until late in the third period when a pair of 3-pointers by Weringa helped the Phoenix stretch out to a 40-28 advantage.
Weringa paced North in scoring with 15 points. Taylor Boardman added nine along with seven rebounds, and Leigh Larocco and Sam Pietruszynski had eight points each. Elise Lampley had seven boards.
Danielle King and Makeba Elliott had 10 points each for Rich East (3-1).