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Lincoln-Way East's Claire McMahon (middle) feels the Lockport defense. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Lincoln-Way East senior Marissa DeGroot called for the ball so many times early in Thursday’s SouthWest Suburban Blue battle against visiting Lockport it seemed as if she knew something.
“It was all about being aggressive,” she said. “If you have the position, you want the ball.”
DeGroot got it and delivered enough times to give the No. 22 Griffins (14-1, 6-0) a halftime lead they wouldn’t relinquish en route to a 38-23 victory over the Porters. She finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Meaghan McMahon added seven points and Kara Krolicki six.
Lockport (6-8, 2-4) was led by Naomi Mayes (nine points) and Nora Polaski (six points, seven rebounds).
DeGroot scored all 11 of her points during the first 16 minutes, as East broke away from a 12-12 tie with a 9-2 run to lead 21-14 at intermission.
The Griffins also began to clamp down on defense. Lockport, which started the game 5-of-7 from the field, went dry on its last 10 possessions of the half and would finish just 9-of-38 frm the field.
East also forced 22 Lockport turnovers using a variety of defenses.
“We switched up a little bit,” DeGroot said. “Defense is our main game. We’re all about just getting after it, being aggressive. We got in foul trouble because we got a little too aggressive, but we stayed on top of it defensively.”
McMahon and Nathalie Hill brought a little bit of second-half offense, each hitting a three-pointer for East, but Lockport, while pale offensively, was able to effectively shut down the Griffins at the other end, forcing 26 turnovers.
“We did,” Porters coach Krista Peterson said. “But I think we worked so hard at the defensive end to get stops, we fell short of energy as the game went on. But we didn’t stop fighting, and I’m very proud of what we did on defense.”
It was East’s final tuneup before a Jan. 15 date at Bolingbrook and a chance to secure the top spot in conference.
“This showed that everybody is going to come out after you,” Griffins coach Jim Martin said. “Kris did a great job with those girls. They kept the game real flat, lackadaisical for us on our part. We shot so well Tuesday night (70 percent in the first half), but tonight we struggled a little bit.
“I don’t think it was a letdown. We’re not looking ahead. Give Lockport a lot of credit for the way they defended us.”