Girls Basketball: Megan Podkowa powers Trinty past Hillcrest
Updated: January 7, 2012 6:59PM
Nobody came away from Saturday’s clash between No. 4 Trinity and No. 5 Hillcrest empty-handed. The only difference was Trinity was also able to go home with a “W.”
DePaul recruit Megan Podkowa had 32 points and 10 rebounds, Alyssa Dengler had 13 points and Taylor Nazon added 11 as Trinity (15-1) withstood Hillcrest’s furious full-court pressure to defeat the Hawks 66-57 in Country Club Hills.
For Trinity, it was matter of putting some of the lessons learned in their only loss to No. 1 Young to good use.
“We definitely knew their pressure,” Podkowa said. “We played them during the summer and we played them last year. We definitely knew we had to handle their pressure. We learned from the Whitney Young game how to fix our mistakes and get through it. That definitely had an impact.”
Trinity used an 11-1 run fueled by a Podkowa three-pointer to build a 17-10 lead late in the first quarter. But Hillcrest answered with a 12-0 run thanks to two baskets each by Samirah Ali and Shannise Heady to take a 22-17 advantage with 5:10 left in the first half.
“I think it was just the experience of the gym, the pressure, the fans, being on TV,” Podkowa said. “We definitely need to be able to handle that because we’re not going to be able to come back and dig ourselves out of hole like that in future games.”
But the Blazers were able to stop the bleeding and ease to a 29-27 lead at the break with Podkowa scoring seven of Trinity’s final 12 points of the half.
“We didn’t capitalize,” Hillcrest coach John Maniatis said. “We didn’t make plays when we need to make plays. Give credit to Trinity. They made the plays when they had to. They’re a quality ballclub. There’s a reason why they’re 15-1. They legitimately have a shot at winning a state title.”
Three-pointers by Podkowa, Dengler and Nazon helped Trinity extended its lead to as many as 12 points in the third quarter at 50-38 with 1:24 remaining. But Hillcrest mounted one final run, closing to within 54-50 on baskets by Dana Gettis and Brittney Wilson.
But that was as close as Hillcrest could get as Trinity made just enough free throws down the stretch to keep the Hawks at arm’s length.
Wilson led Hillcrest (14-2) with 15 points and Ali added 14, but Heady had only 10 points including just two in the second half.
“They minimized her opportunities,” Maniatis said. “I need to do a better job getting her in open space and making sure we’re funneling things through on the offensive end. Hopefully, we as a coaching staff can learn from this as well.”
Trinity coach Ed Stritzel called the game a “coming of age” for sophomore point guard Lauren Prochaska, who finished with just five points, but had five assists, two steals and handled the Hillcrest pressure almost flawlessly.
“I told the girls today would be 32 minutes of extreme craziness,” he said. “I was telling our kids all week, ‘Can you handle the pressure like that?’ I thought our point guard (Prochaska) came of age today. We knew she could handle the pressure, but you have to do it in a game.
“We’re happy,” Stritzel added. “This team’s special. Somebody’s going to have to play well to beat us. We have a tough schedule. Every game we play is a tough game. Every game is a battle.”
A battle that Trinity may have won but Hillcrest did not feel like it lost.
“Today was a quality, quality measure for us,” Maniatis said. “Our expectations are still high. We know where we want to go and what we need to improve from today.”