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Lincoln-Way East's Marissa DeGroot (45) grabs a rebound between Marian Catholic's Aliyah Isaac (23) and Melanie Ransom during their season-opening basketball game in Chicago Heights Tuesday, November 13, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Playing heavy minutes for a 21-win team last season, Marian Catholic’s underclassmen backcourt of Teniya Page and Ashton Millender took their lumps at times.
Leading a deep, talented Spartans squad, Page and Millender scored 19 apiece in Marian’s 70-49 win over Lincoln-Way East Tuesday in Chicago Heights.
“I’m very comfortable now compared to last year,” Page said. “I’m familiar with my teammates and familiar with the speed of the game.”
Megan Walsh added eight points and seven rebounds for Marian (1-0). Kara Krolicki (12 points), Dana O’Grady (11 points) and Marissa De Groot (eight points, 10 rebounds) paced Lincoln-Way East (0-1).
It was the Spartan’s young but experienced backcourt that provided the offensive spark in the second quarter. East had already come back from a 12-point deficit and trailed 21-18 following two Meaghan McMahon free throws.
A sophomore, Page rose up at the top of the key and was fouled. She connected on all three free throws with Kauai Bradley hitting two of her own. Following two O’Grady free throws, things fell into place for a fast-paced Spartans attack.
Page scored on driving lay-up she banked in. Fouled on the play, she hit the free throw. The next time down the court, Millender added her own three-point play. An extended 15-4 run put Marian up 36-22 late in the second.
“It was just a rhythm thing,” Page said. “Our big thing is to always try and get in rhythm offensively. It can be hard to stop.”
Lincoln-Way East got as close as nine points in the third, trailing 38-29, but would get no closer. The Griffins committed 20 turnovers.
“Our defense was okay, even good, but through the game we got better at it,” Millender said.
Starting two juniors and a freshman along seniors Meaghan McMahon and Nathalie Hill, East coach Jim Martin knows his team will get better with each passing game.
“Marian’s athleticism was better than ours,” Martin said. “Their pressure got to us. Everyone asks why we open with Marian. Now these kids know how they have to play. You can’t take this game lightly. You have to get better.”