Girls Basketball: Willowbrook pulls away from Maine West, stays unbeaten with eighth-double-digit win
By John Leusch - Daily Herald Media Group
DES PLAINES – Fans who attend Maine West basketball games have heard a particular chant seemingly forever from longtime popular announcer Tommy Sochowski.
“Warrrrrrriors” belts out Sochowski, who doubles as the public address announcer at Lewis University in Romeoville.
On Tuesday night in Des Plaines, that nickname was guaranteed to be one of the winning teams.
The hometown Warriors were playing the Warriors from Willowbrook.
And the visitors did what they’ve done in all nine of their games this season: win.
Led by 5-foot-8 senior guard senior Sophie Sullivan (14 points), sophomore Calli Kenny (12 points, two 3-pointers), junior Sara Stout (10 points), sophomore Elle Bruschuk (nine) and freshman Hannah Kenny (seven), Willowbrook (9-0) got past Maine West 53-32 for its eighth double-digit win of the season and fourth by 20 or more.
“They’re definitely one of the better teams we’ve played,” said Sullivan, a Southern Illinois-Edwardsville recruit who is the only senior starter for Willowbrook. “We made a lot of little mistakes that we cleaned up at the end and that’s what helped us get to a 20-point lead.”
West (2-6) kept the game interesting most of the way.
The hosts got to within 30-23 on back-to-back baskets by 6-foot-3 center Jada Thomas with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
But Willowbrook went on a 21-7 tear to put the game away.
“They’re a lot bigger than us,” said Willowbrook coach Terry Harrell, whose only other better start in 11 seasons was 14-0 in 2013. “And they showed it tonight. We seemed a little susceptible to that in the first half. We had a little bit of a discussion at halftime and told them we can’t let that happen. Then the girls came out and played stronger under the basket in the second half. I’m happy with the effort. The execution wasn’t great early but it was good in the second half,”
The game was tied at 4-4 after a layup by West’s Julia Wolke with 5:42 left in the first quarter but Calli Kenny’s 3-pointer sparked an 11-0 run to end the period and Willowbrook never trailed.
Thomas led West with nine points while Jaclyn Riedl and Aya Deiri each had seven.
“They are the strongest team we’ve seen this season,” Harrell said. “They had three girls as strong as anyone we’ve seen. We have to prepare for bigger teams because they’re going to be bigger ones in front of us. We’re not always going to get smaller teams that want to run with us, something we are very good at. So we have to get ready for teams that want to sit down and control the lane. We’ll be ready for it. These girls have responded to everything I’ve asked so I don’t have any doubt they’ll continue to do that moving forward.”
West showed its character when Deiri’s 3-pointer capped a rally that got the hosts to within 21-16 late in the first half.
“We were really proud of our defensive effort because we know Willowbrook is a very high-scoring team,” said first-year West coach Deanna Kuzmanic, who starred at Wheeling and Alabama-Birmingham. “They are very skilled and have good shooters. We’ve played some tough teams with our nonconference schedule which in the long run will help us in conference and by the time we get to the state playoffs will help us be where we need to be.”
The 6-foot Bruschuk also had two 3-pointers for Willowbrook.
“Elle Bruschuk always has a solid game,” Harrell added. “She is like a stats stuffer. She’ll get something in every column. She did that again tonight, She got steals. She got blocks. She made some points. She does a little bit of everything for us.”