By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle 

McNair, Thompson and Walsh lead Tigers past Plainfield North for SPC title


Last updated 3/14/2021 at 11:40am

Southwest Prairie Conference East Division champions, Southwest Prairie Conference champions, 14-1 overall record — all in 2020-21.

The above accomplishments of Joliet West girls varsity basketball head coach John Placher's Tigers may be only the beginning.

On Saturday morning on Joliet's west side, a pair of Tigers were getting together for the 2021 Southwest Prairie Conference championship game. The visiting SPC West Division champion Tigers of Plainfield North (9-4) and the SPC East champs the Tigers of Joliet West (14-1).

McNair, Thompson & Walsh.

No, not a prominent Joliet law firm but Destiny McNair, Lisa Thompson and Grace Walsh — the deadly trio, of Joliet West Tigers who combined to score 53 of the 68 Joliet West points in the 68-53 Tigers' SPC championship game victory.

McNair (15 points, nine rebounds, six offensive rebounds, four steals), got the Tigers party started in the first quarter.

Entering the game with a 7.4 points-per-game scoring average, McNair went above her average in the first four minutes of the game. The sophomore scored eight points to give the Tigers a 16-6 lead at the first-quarter mask break.

Joliet West's All-State sophomore Lisa Thompson scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the first quarter leading to a 24-11 Tiger lead.

In the second quarter McNair only scored two points but grabbed four offensive rebounds as the Tigers went to the half up 34-20.

After suffering through a scoreless first half, Tiger junior Walsh (17 points, 8 rebounds) made her appearance in the third quarter.

Plainfield North, behind sophomore Erin Henry (13 points) and the Tigers senior three-point specialist Lexi Hernandez (12 points, four 3's) had clawed back to within 37-28 at the third quarter mask break.

Walsh scored her first basket of the game igniting a 9-0 Tigers run after the mask timeout.

Thompson soared to the basket for two and after Walsh's old-fashioned three-point-play the Tigers led 44-28.

Thompson scored again for a 46-28 Tigers lead with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter to conclude the 9-0 Tigers run.

After three quarters the West Tigers led 50-34.

In the fourth quarter Walsh took over the game.

The Tiger junior scored 12 points hauled down four rebounds, added a pair of steals and tossed an assist to her law firm partner McNair for two.

Plainfield North never quit behind the Tigers' all-time leading three-point shooter Hernandez who buried her third and fourth three-pointers of the game to keep the North Tigers close.

Sophomore Lexi Salazar (12 points) had a huge fourth quarter for the valiant North Tigers scoring seven points.

"It feels good to be SPC champs," McNair said. "We worked hard for this all season. Winning conference championships is what we do."

"Feels amazing to win the SPC again," Thompson said. "Even though we didn't have a state tournament this year, we went out and tried to win every game. We always go out to help each other if one of us is having a bad half. We are always there for each other. I love playing with this team."

"It is awesome. What a two year run for us," Walsh said. "SPC Champs two years in a row. Destiny has been leading us the last three games. Throughout the tournament we have seen a triangle and two defense and Destiny has excelled against it. It happened last night, too. I had a bad first half and then played well in the second half."

Thompson, Walsh, McNair and 5-foot-11 sophomore starter Miranda Rosales (two points, four rebounds) return in November.

Tigers sixth-girl junior Caiside Snapp (six points) and junior Laila Gibson (two points) add depth to Placher's loaded Tigers in 2021-22.

Is a 2021-22 Redbird Arena trip coming?

"Plainfield North is a good team and we were afraid of the match-up with their bigs," Placher said. "SPC East and SPC Conference champs, 14-1. What a season. Destiny is going to be a special player, Grace took over the game in the second half and Lisa is Lisa. What a talent and I get to have her for two more years."


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