By Drake Skleba
For the Enterprise 

Lisle becomes Village of Champions for a day

Lisle girls slip past Wilmington in OT for Illinois Central 8 championship, while AP Illinois No.1 Benet Academy girls take home ESCC crown


Last updated 2/6/2020 at 8:36am

On Wednesday night, Lisle, The Arboretum Village became the Village of Champions.

That was after the conference championship-winning efforts of Lisle Senior High School and Benet Academy girls' basketball teams.

At home in Lisle, along the frozen banks of the DuPage River, the Lions had to play an extra four-minute overtime session against Wilmington - defeating the Wildcats 43-40.

With the win, the Lions claim the inaugural Illinois Central Eight championship.

In Arlington Heights on a snowy Wednesday night, the Redwings defeated St. Viator 57-47 to win another East Suburban Catholic Conference championship.

Wednesday night truly belonged to the Village of Lisle.

The Lisle-Wilmington game produced two events not often seen in high school basketball.

After their very impressive win at Newark on Tuesday, the Lions knew what they had to do.

Trailing 39-35 with 1:44 remaining in regulation and Wilmington with possession, the Lion defense took over.

Junior Cassidy Allen forced a Wilmington turnover. Allen, who scored all six of her points in the fourth quarter and overtime, was fouled and calmly made a pair of free throws to pull the Lions within 39-37.

With 29 seconds remaining, junior Tara Kane (seven points, six rebounds) created another Wilmington turnover. With 18 seconds on a beautiful feed from junior Emma Rossin (11 points, five rebounds), Lion junior Jenna Johnson's lay in tied the game at 39-39.

In the overtime, Lisle (24-7, 13-1) took the lead 41-39 on a bucket from Allen with 2:59 remaining. Wilmington (14-13, 7-7) scored its last point of the night on a free-throw to pull within 41-40 with 1:49 left.

With 34.7 seconds left junior Abby Casmer (eight points, seven rebounds) hit a clutch free throw to put the Lions up 42-40. With 7.3 seconds on the clock, Allen, hit one free throw to extend the Lion lead to 43-40. Wilmington's final desperation three pointer misfired the Lions achieved their cherished goal.

"When we were down four late in the fourth quarter I looked in the girls eyes," Lisle coach Nick Balaban said. "There was no fear. There was no doubt. They went out and showed the heart of a Lion to win the conference championship. We did not want to share the conference championship with anyone. We wanted to be the first school to win the IC-8 varsity girls basketball championship."

For Lion 6-foot sophomore center, Kylie Russell, Feb. 5 was a long day.

After scoring four points and fouling out in the Lions' JV overtime loss to Wilmington, the energetic sophomore, 10 minutes later, was starting for the varsity Lions. And what a start it was.

Scoring eight points, blocking four Wilmington shots and hauling down, five rebounds, Russell, led the varsity Lions to a 15-10, first-quarter lead. She fouled out again in the fourth quarter, but not before she added her fifth and sixth blocked shots and ended with seven rebounds, along with her eight points.

"It was really fun for me, to play in both games and then finish the night with our conference championship," Russell said. "It certainly works for me."

The other oddity that occurred in the game occurred in the final minutes of the first half. With the Lions leading 18-17, Rossin misfired on a free-throw. A Wilmington player hauled down the rebound and exploded to the hoop for a put-back-basket. Sadly for the Wilmington girl, it was made in the Lisle basket.

The bucket put the Lions up 20-17 and Lisle extended that lead to 24-19 at the half.

"It feels great to be conference champions," Allen said. "This was our No.1 goal all season. I was coming off an illness and we still had other people playing with injuries. I am so proud of the fact that we showed real grit and pulled it out. We knew what was at stake and we did it."


Benet Academy 57 St. Viator 49

The AP Illinois Class 4A No.1-ranked Redwings (25-2, 7-0) grabbed a 14-7 lead after one quarter of play. The Redwings went to their halftime locker room up 26-18. Taking a 43-34 lead into the fourth quarter, the Redwings held off St. Viator (10-14, 3-2) and took home another ESCC Championship.


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