MORRIS – After defeating Morris in Tuesday's pool play in the Morris Girls Shootout, Minooka girls basketball coach Ray Liberatore said his team was well-balanced between outside and inside threats.
In Wednesday's 47-24 win over Kaneland in the championship bracket's third-place game, that balance showed over and over. With Kaneland concentrating on post players, Kelly Carnagio and Breana Huber, the Indians were able to free up Sydney Arlis and Emily Knaub for open 3-point attempts.
That plan worked to near perfection, as Arlis hit three 3-pointers in the first half to help Minooka pull away. Knaub hit a pair of 3s after halftime to keep the lead intact.
"I was very pleased with the girls," Liberatore said. "We hit five 3-pointers. Any time you can do that, it's just great. Those are difference-makers. That's 15 points right there.
"Emily Knaub tore her ACL last year, so it was nice to see her come out here and be comfortable on it. You can't ever determine how someone is going to come back from an injury like that until you see her on the court. There was no indecisiveness or apprehension on her part when she had to move. That's great to see."
Arlis drained her 3-pointers in succession, helping Minooka – which finished the tournament with a 5-1 record – increase its lead from 12-8 with 5:20 to play in the first half to 22-10 at halftime. She nearly had half of the Indians' points in the first half, while Carnagio racked up the assists.
"This is [Carnagio's] fourth year on the varsity, and she might end up with more assists this year than the previous three years combined," Liberatore said. "She and Sydney have a nice action together and I couldn't ask more from those two girls. We are really improving our half-court offense, and they are a big part of that. When we combine that with the points we get off our defense and the points we get because of the speed of [guards] Latricia Dean and Brooklyn Bachmann in transition, we are going to be hard to defend.
"Sydney is definitely the more vocal of the two, and it's nice to not have just a coach's voice telling the team what needs to be done."
No one needed to tell the Indians what to do in the second half, as it was more of the game. Minooka dominated after halftime, with Knaub hitting a pair of back-to-back 3s to make it 32-17 with 11:10 to play. She finished with 11 points, Carnagio had eight and Bachmann five.
Morris goes 3-3
In the summer, basketball teams are looking for improvement, both from the individuals and the team.
To that end, Morris girls basketball coach Kate Carey considers the shootout a success for the Redskins. After going 2-1 in pool play, Morris went 1-2 in the Gold Bracket, finishing 3-3.
For a team that was 9-17 last season, a .500 record in a tournament with quality competition is a definite step in the right direction. In their final game, the Redskins trailed Lincoln-Way West by five points at halftime, rallied in the second half to take a one-point lead and tyed the score at 35 with 2:02 to play before falling, 42-37.
"We were still right in the game until the end," Carey said. "I love what I was seeing from our team all weekend. We played with some quality teams without having true practices. We have been having camps where we have been working on individual drills, but as far as full team practices, we haven't had them.
"For our girls to be this successful and not (have) had any real practices, we're thrilled. We competed with three quality opponents both days."
West went ahead 24-17 before Morris' Jessica Ponce hit the first of her two second-half 3-pointers. Julie Jurasits and Jessica Jurak each had putbacks for Morris to make it 30-28 before Alex Kjellesvik hit a 3-pointer to give the Redskins a 31-30 lead with 8:47 to play.
After the teams traded baskets, West's by Jenna Matthews and Morris' by Mya Shannon, West's Courtney O'Donnell converted a three-point play to give the Warriors a 37-33 lead. A basket by Ponce with 2:02 left made it, 37-35, but West's Emily Atsinger hit a 3-pointer to make it, 40-35, with 1:50 to play. Morris got to within 40-37 on a bucket by Leona Burton with 1:32 to go, but West's Stephanie McDonald iced it with a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left.