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Seven months of dedication and hard work is paying off for Andrew’s Molly Franson.
The 6-foot-2 junior is back after missing the 2011-12 season after knee surgery. Thursday night she scored 25 points to lead the host Thunderbolts to an opening-round Turkey Tournament win over Oak Lawn.
Friday, she pulled down 13 rebounds and added nine points in a 48-29 victory over Joliet West.
“It feels incredible; there is no other word besides incredible,” a smiling Franson said. “I worked hard to get here. After surgery, my whole life was dedicated to getting better and getting back here.”
No one is more grateful than teammate Tiana Karopulos.
While Franson was clearing out and dominating underneath, Karopulos was able to weave and drive her way to 17 points, eight coming during a second quarter in which Andrew turned a 15-8 lead into a 29-13 halftime bulge.
“This is great, better than ever before,” Karopulos said. “When I have an off game like (Thursday night), she really stepped up. Then (Friday) she wasn’t getting any calls, and I stepped up.
“We just feed off of each other, try to help each other out and be good teammates.”
Andrew (2-0) also got contributions from Kelsey Lafin (8 points, 9 rebounds), Georgia Alexakos (6 points) and Lauren Bialas (5 points, 5 rebounds).
Joliet West (1-1) received 10 points from Tay Wright and 10 rebounds from Aaliyah Stepney.
The game was tied at 8 when Lafin hit a field goal, Nicole Dominguez a free throw, Franson a putback and Alexakos a driving bank-in to close the first period with a 7-0 run.
More important, Joliet West already was in foul trouble with nine, while Andrew was yet to be called for its first violation.
“We try to move our feet a lot,” Karopulos said. “Some of us tend to get more fouls than normal. So we just try to work hard, move our feet and keep from reaching.”
Ahead 19-13 with 5:40 left in the second period, the T-bolts landed a 10-0 haymaker to end the half, Karopulos starting it with three consecutive buckets.
Oak Lawn 50, Rich Central 22: Jannah Mahmoud was key for Oak Lawn (2-1), scoring five of her 11 points early in the second quarter to start a 14-0 run that erased a 9-5 deficit.
Brooke Annerino added eight points, while LaTondra Brooks, who sat all but a few seconds of the second quarter with three fouls, finished with 11 points and nine steals. Rich Central (1-2) was led by Sade Reed (6 points).