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Rolling Meadows 6-foot-2 junior Jenny Vliet estimates she took 500-600 shots per day during the summer, most of those from three-point range.
But it’s the ones she takes and makes now that will probably be the difference in whether Rolling Meadows gets to where it wants to go.
Tuesday against Conant, Vliet made four three-pointers on her way to a team-high 18 points as the No. 13 Mustangs (7-0) defeated visiting Conant 59-28 in a Mid-Suburban League crossover game in Rolling Meadows.
Vliet added six rebounds and two steals for Rolling Meadows, although she usually leaves the dirty work around the basket to teammates like Ashley Montanez and 6-2 senior Morgan Keller.
“I am an outside player, I’m not going to lie,” she said. “That’s my favorite part of the game. Over the summer, I probably shot 20,000 times. That definitely helps.”
Vliet’s second three-pointer of the first half gave Meadows a 31-11 lead with 54 seconds remaining in the second quarter. But Conant (1-5), which starts a junior, three sophomores and a freshman, did not make it easy on the Mustangs.
“We told our kids in our practices leading up to this game, I know Dan (Conant coach Travers) well and his teams are going to be prepared,” Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky said. “They’re going to scrap, they’re going to fight, and at least in the beginning our girls did not come out with the energy we needed.
“Jackie (Kemph) and Jenny, they kind of carried us through playing as hard as they,” the coach added. “Jenny hitting the shots and Jackie, her ball pressure was amazing. I don’t think she was happy with the first half and she came out and took over the game with her defensive pressure.”
Kemph, a 5-6 junior, added seven points, seven assists and four steals.
“Jackie is the queen of steals,” Vliet said. “She’s out there every day, she hustles so hard, it’s great to watch the kid. She must have 10 steals a game.”
Five–foot-11 junior Alexis Glasgow added 12 points and eight rebounds for Meadows, which was invited to participate in the Windy City Showdown hosted by Whitney Young on December 8. The Mustangs will face Bishop Gorman from Las Vegas, Nev.
“I’ve been Youtube-ing them a little bit,” Kirkorsky said. “But while it’s nice playing in this and the McDonald’s Shootout, we just keep stressing to the girls that if they really want to get where they want to go, it’s about the details and doing the small things on a daily basis.”
Rolling Meadows lost to Warren in regional finals last year, but has its sights set on advancing a lot further this February.
“That was not our proudest moment last year,” Vliet said. “Our goals are much bigger this year. We’re shooting to go downstate. That would be the ultimate goal.”
The goal at Conant, which got five points each from sophomores De Dee Durr and Lilly Chavarria, is just to get better every day.
“We’re playing hard, we’re young, but everybody’s young in girls’ basketball,” Conant coach Dan Travers said. “So it’s not really an excuse. I like their intensity. We’re getting better. Nobody said it was going to be easy. You can’t miss layups and free throws at the varsity level.
“But I like our progress,” he added. “We have to practice. That hurt us last week at York, not being able to practice for four games. We’ve had a couple of good practices since. They’re (Rolling Meadows) a good team. They’re well-coached. We just have to look forward to getting better and competing.”