LISLE – Willowbrook had an up close look at the growing Emily Fisher hype train.
Fisher, a Libertyville junior guard who committed to Maryland, is one of the top players in the Midwest.
The Warriors were on the unfortunate end of Fisher putting her imprint on a stunning Libertyville comeback in the 32nd Annual Coach Derril Kipp Hoopsfest in Lisle.
Fisher put together a sensational effort against the Warriors, finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks to power the Wildcats to a 58-51 win.
Willowbrook coach Terry Harrell repeatedly kept shaking his head in frustration — and probably amazement — throughout Fisher’s big fourth quarter, which included four blocks and a key charge to go with seven points.
“She played well, but more offensively than defensively,” Harrell said of Fisher. “Offensively, she was tough to handle. She has nice ballhandling skills, is a tall girl which means she will get shots a lot of kids won’t get on us. She made those shots. That was a big difference, especially in that one stretch where we had the lead. We didn’t care of the ball. They made shots and she got them back into it.”
The Warriors (16-3) were led by 11 points each from Sophie Sullivan and Calli Kenny and 10 points from Ellie Bruschuk. The Warriors shot 5-of-15 on 3-pointers, but endured a nine-minute span without scoring in the second half that allowed Fisher to take over the game and were outscored 29-7 in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors looked to be on the verge of another victory early in the third quarter, capitalizing on the Wildcats (14-6) perhaps still in a malaise following a tough loss to highly ranked Stevenson on Saturday. The Warriors’ quick hands harassed the Wildcats, helping build a 42-27 lead with 3:41 left in the third following two straight 3-pointers by Bruschuk.
But Fisher ignited the comeback with her offensive and defensive play, showcasing her immense potential in front of an Maryland assistant coach. Fisher scored 10 points in Libertyville’s scoring surge that took a 42-27 deficit to a 50-44 lead. She closed out the game with two blocks on the same possession in the final minute, noting it took the Wildcats several quarters to shrug off the disappointment of Saturday’s defeat.
“It was rough not beating Stevenson because they are huge rival and we played very well until the end,” Fisher said. “We just decided to come out from that game and get a big win. We really wanted to win after that loss.
“It was hard for some points because we were getting stressed out by their press, which was really good. We just had to move off the ball and get those long passes and our defense has been working really well for us lately. It was a great game.”
Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen joked that the Wildcats have an affinity for playing games at Benet. Two years ago, Fisher guided the Wildcats to a huge upset win over Homewood-Floosmoor at Benet.
“We had Kate Rule and Emily handling the ball against the big-time pressure and they’re unflappable,” Pedersen said. “They can see the floor and have good vision and can make long passes. This is our best win so far. We had a little bit of a hangover from the Stevenson game. They’re a young group, but to their credit, they came out in the second half with a different determination than they showed in the first half.”
Even in defeat, the Warriors gained some perspective that will help them in the playoffs. The Warriors tallied 10 steals and forced 24 turnovers, but lost the rebounding battle 57-31. The Wildcats’ half-court defense, led by Fisher, stymied the Warriors in the final 11 minutes by tallying 13 blocks for the game.
“This is a game we have to learn from because we had a lead but we didn’t take care of the ball,” Harrell said. “We had to spread out and take care of the ball and get the buckets we wanted, it would’ve been a different game. They made some good shots. They also made their free throws, so it was hard to catchup. Our girls played great.”