Trojans smother Red Devils for Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional title
Last updated 2/24/2020 at 11:58am
In his playing days for the Downers Grove North Trojans, Downers Grove North girls' basketball coach Stephan Bolt was known for his offensive abilities. As one of the all-time leading scorers in Downers Grove North boys basketball history, Bolt could and did on many occasions, shoot the lights out.
In his eighth season as head coach of the Trojan girls, Bolt has transformed his Trojans into one of the finest defensive units in the state. On Friday night, in the IHSA Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional Championship Game, Downers Grove North's (27-6) defense smothered the host Red Devils.
Back on December 3, the Trojans defeated their West Suburban Silver rival Red Devils in Hinsdale, 45-31. On January 25, back in The Purple Gym in Downers Grove, their defense held the Red Devils to just 14 points in a 34-14 Trojan victory.
Forcing 26 Red Devil turnovers on 15 steals, the Trojans cruised to a 47-19 victory and brought home the 2020 IHSA Class 4A Hinsdale Central Regional Championship plaque back to the North Side of Downers Grove. The regional championship was the Trojans' first since 2014. The win extended the DGN school record for wins in a season to 27.
With the win, the Trojans will meet Nazareth Academy (21-12) at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night, in the second semifinal of the IHSA Class 4A Proviso West Sectional.
Nazareth defeated the Trojans' arch-rivals from Lyons Township on a buzzer-beating three-point shot, 65-64 to take home the IHSA Class 4A Reavis Regional Championship,on Thursday night.
Back on January 7 at The Purple Gym, the Trojans rallied past the Roadrunners, 34-31.
Tonight, Trojan sophomore Ryann Wendt, scored nine of her game-high 14 points in the first quarter to give the Trojans a 13-4 lead.
Forcing 10 more Red Devil second-quarter turnovers, nine of them on Trojan steals, Downers Grove North held Hinsdale Central (9-18) to one second-quarter point. Led by four steals from sophomore Ella Sebek and three from senior Ellie Gross (nine points, six steals, three assists, block), the Trojans ran into their halftime locker room with a 20-5 lead.
Wendt, led the Trojans with 11 first-half points and Ellie Gross added seven.
In the third quarter, Hinsdale Central scored just three points, as the Trojans extended their lead to 36-8 after three.
Ellie Gross' "Lil' Sis", sophomore Kate Gross and senior Lexi Parker (nine points, seven rebounds, three assists), each scored five third-quarter points. Wendt, buried her second long-range triple from downtown Hinsdale, to conclude her big night.
"It's a great feeling to win the regional championship." Wendt said. "We went all-out from the beginning, to get the regional championship victory. I had a bad game in our last game and I really wanted to come out and make-up for my bad outing.
"I had confidence in my shot tonight and played well. Nazareth is a great team but if we play great defense and hit our shots, we will be fine."
"Winning the regional championship feels great," Parker said. "This has been a goal of mine for my whole basketball career here at North. But we are far from done. We still have five games to go and we plan on powering through."
"We all played so well tonight. North Side Defense and we made the extra pass on offense and we finished."
Elllie Gross' driving lay-up, with 7:09 left, initiated the 30-point running clock giving the Trojans a 38-8 lead.
"We take great pride in our defense," Ellie Gross said. "Our defense really clicked and we all made all the plays tonight to win the regional championship. Ryann was a huge spark for us tonight in the first quarter and was outstanding."
Getting plenty of playing time, the Trojan reserves performed well.
Freshman Maggie Flemming, dropped a pair of three-point bombs on the Red Devils, for six points. Junior Maegan Ritchie scored four points on a pair of power-drives to the basket.
In her sixth-man role, sophomore Eleanor Harris grabbed three rebounds, blocked two shots and had a steal.
"After defeating Hinsdale Central twice this season, I was a little afraid of a let-down from our girls," Bolt said. There was no let-down. I am so proud of the girls for the way they came out and guarded people.
"Ryann Wendt just has to have confidence in her own abilities. She is a great player but sometimes she lacks the all important self-confidence that she needs to be successful.
"We played Nazareth back in January," Bolt added. "I understand the Roadrunners are much improved since we defeated them. It will be a great game on Monday."
"People say that Nazareth is a much-improved team since we defeated them in January," Ellie Gross concluded. "But we are playing much-better than we were playing in January, too. We are super-psyched to play them and plan to continue to advance in in the tournament."