Coming off the program’s first road victory against Proviso East Friday, Addison Trail found itself in a prime letdown spot less than 24 hours later.
But the way the Blazers have played defense of late, that turned out not to be an option for the veteran squad.
Holding Glenbard East scoreless for nearly 13 minutes, Addison Trail pulled away to a 35-21 nonconference home victory and ran its winning streak to six games. In each of those contests, the Blazers have held their opponents to fewer than 39 points.
Mary Velez led all scorers with 14 points to go along with six rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. One of five seniors in the Addison Trail starting lineup and 10 on the roster, she scored six points in the first quarter.
“It (the win streak) is amazing,” Velez said. “We’ve been with each other for so long. Having most of the team being seniors, we know where each other is going to be. We trust each other and know they will be there. We have that connection because we’ve been playing together for so long.
“We’ve been talking a lot on defense and staying disciplined. And we help each other which really helps. If we get out of rotation, we know other people will be there.”
The middle quarters is where the home team turned up its defense. Yielding no points in the second quarter while forcing eight turnovers, Addison Trail (8-5) went on a 6-0 run to take a 16-10 lead into halftime. The Blazers then used a 9-1 spurt out of intermission to build a double-digit advantage.
Four-year varsity player Quiana Birmingham scored all five of her points in the third quarter as the margin swelled to 27-12 heading into the fourth.
“We (the seniors) have played a part in this program turning it around,” Birmingham said. “We’ve gone from being dead-last in the conference to being second place last year. It’s a great feeling to be a part of that. And then we made history (on Friday) beating Proviso East for the first time at their place.
“Everybody knows their roles; we all have a role whether it’s starting or coming off the bench and everybody is doing it to a ‘T.’ We are bouncing off each other very well.”
The young Rams (5-8), who start three sophomores, came in having won five of their last six games, with all those victories coming within the Upstate Eight Conference. Defense has also spurred their turnaround, with just one opponent reaching 40 points during that stretch.
Mackenzie Huber topped the Rams with 10 points and Ciara Johnson had five. Gabby Walton also contributed nine rebounds and Esabella Lee tallied six rebounds.
“We have been really trying to hone in on our defense, especially as a young team,” Glenbard East coach Nicole Miller said. “Addison Trail is very good at screening and they are fundamentally sound so this was a good matchup. I don’t think we shot particularly well but our defense, we’ve been holding teams under 35 points which is cool to see from such a young group.
“This group is learning quickly and they are making good adjustments. And they are learning to work together.”
Juliana Nasti added six points for the Blazers and Elena Papanicolaou had five rebounds and three steals.
“Our schedule starting off was so strong and competitive,” Addison Trail coach Cory Little said. “Knowing this was a senior group, if you don’t play the best, you can’t be one of the better teams. We played Downers Grove North, Sandburg, DePaul and Willowbrook. We lost to them but it built character. The girls responded well from that and now they are clicking. The sky is the limit for them.
“They are a tight group, even outside of basketball and outside of this place. And that builds character within the group.”