Ellie Gross and valiant Trojans fall to physical Whitney Young for Class 4A Proviso West Sectional championship
Last updated 2/28/2020 at 12:56am
At Whitney Young High School on Chicago's West Side, the sounds of Oliva-Newton-John's 1981 hit, "Let's Get Physical", is probably heard everyday, at Dolphin practices.
On Thursday night in the Class 4A Proviso West Sectional Championship Game, between Whitney Young and Downers Grove North the ultra-physical Dolphin defense forced 25 Trojan turnovers that would be the difference in Whitney Young's 53-47 sectional championship victory.
Playing in her last game for Downers Grove North stand-out senior guard Ellie Gross went out in style.
Gross scored 18 points, handed out four assists, hauled down four rebounds and added three steals.
Gross was beaten-up, thrown to the ground and knocked out of bounds by the Dolphin defense. Other battered and bruised Trojans to play well were sophomores Eleanor Harris and Ryann Wendt.
Harris just missed a double-double, with eight points and 10 rebounds, while Wendt scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds.
Trailing 43-38 with 6:39 left, Harris scored on a perfect feed from Gross. Forty seconds later, Gross completed the perfect back-door pass to Wendt and the Trojans were within 43-42 with 4:54 left.
Time out Whitney Young.
With all the momentum and the huge purple-clad contingent from DGN in a frenzy, Young went on a 6-0 run to open up a 49-42 lead with three minutes left.
The 6-0 run was led by two blocked shots from 6-foot ,170 pound Dolphin center Kennedy Harrell (0 points, nine rebounds, three blocks) and a steal and score from the Dolphins' Kayla Green (18 points, five steals).
The never-say-die Trojans would answer.
Ellie Gross and her sophomore sister Kate brought the Trojans within 49-45 with a free throw from Ellie and an inside bucket from Kate (five points, two rebounds, assist). Wendt put on a spectacular drive around the massive Harrell for two and the Trojans were within 49-47 with 1:41 left.
The Trojans got no closer and fell 53-47.
Whitney Young (25-3) advanced to play Bolingbrook (23-7) in the IHSA Lewis University Super-Sectional at 7 p.m. Monday night in Romeoville. The Lady Raiders rolled past the Associated Press' Class 4A top-ranked Benet Academy 58-43 in the IHSA Class 4A Benet Academy Sectional championship game.
The Dolphins jumped out to a 14-11 lead after one quarter behind six points from Timia Ware (15 points, five steals). Ellie Gross scored seven second-quarter points but Young extended their lead to 25-21 at the half.
Gross for the Trojans and Green for the Dolphins each scored eight third-quarter points as Whitney Young led 39-35 after three quarters.
Also playing in her last game for the Trojans, three-sport star senior Lexi Parker (four points, six rebounds) battled and was bruised after the game.
"We all gave it everything we had tonight," Parker said. "Ellie was outstanding for us and we all played so well.
We had an outstanding season and with all our outstanding underclassman returning we will be very good next year."
In August Parker will be heading down to Athens, Ga., to continue her education and play soccer for the the University of Georgia women's soccer team.
For Ellie Gross, in August she will attend the University of Chicago and will always go down as one of the all-time greats in DGN girls basketball.
"We gave it everything we had tonight and left it on the floor," Ellie Gross said. "Our young players were outstanding for us tonight. What a great senior season for me to conclude a my career at DGN."
With sophomores Wendt, Harris and Kate Gross returning in 2020-21, there is no reason to feel sorry for Trojan coach Stephan Bolt.
Sophomore Ella Sebek, who tonight buried a three-point bomb to pull the Trojans within 39-38 in the first minute of the fourth quarter will return in 2020-21. Also sophomore Vanessa Linge and freshman Maggie Flemming will get plenty of playing time next season.
"I am so proud of the tremendous effort the girls put out tonight," Bolt said. "They never gave up and for a few missed plays, they would have been successful. We will miss Ellie, Lexi and Erin Miller, our three seniors who have been outstanding for us for four years.
"Lexi will go on to play soccer at Georgia," Bolt added "Also, the University of Chicago is getting one outstanding point-guard in Ellie Gross."