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Highland Park's Lena Munzer © fights for the ball with Lake Forest's Kate Arnson (L) and Gabby Perino during a basketball game in Lake Forest, Saturday, January 12, 2013 I David Banks~for Sun-Times Media
To anyone observing girls basketball in Highland Park over last four years, here’s an absolute truth: Lena Munzer can score.
After all, the Yale recruit totaled well over 1,000 points in her remarkable career.
But what is not nearly as discussed is how the 5-foot-9 senior affects a game when she is not filling up the score sheet.
“She’s a smart player, knows the game so well,” Giants coach Jolie Bechtel said. “She’s able to help her teammates in areas they don’t understand as much. That has a huge impact.”
Saturday’s 48-41 overtime win over Lake Forest was the perfect platform for Munzer to showcase her considerable skills, with her production stretching well beyond points.
With 7:50 left in the first quarter: Munzer blocks the Scouts’ initial shot from sophomore Grace Torkelson. It was one of three blocked shots in the game for Munzer.
With 2:40 left in the second quarter: Munzer drives to her left, only to attract three defenders. She throws it into the paint to the waiting hands of junior Lizzy LoGrande, who makes an easy five-foot jumper in front of the basket. Throughout the game, Munzer is hounded by defenders as soon as she touches the ball, but constantly finds her teammates for open shots.
“Even when she is not scoring she’s still our point guard,” senior Tina Berardi said. “She was being double-teamed a lot of the game. She’s trying to move the ball around, which she is very good at.”
With 1:50 left in the third quarter: Munzer fronts Lake Forest junior Annie Keller in the post and when Scouts senior Gabby Perino throws it in, Munzer is waiting. Earlier, Keller had slipped behind Munzer on the baseline for an easy layup. This time, Munzer snags the ball in the air for a steal, then sprints down the floor and is fouled. As for Keller, she did not score another basket the rest of the game.
“Right from the start, I realized she (Keller) was going to try and post me up all day,” Munzer said. “I knew I had to get in front of her and not let them throw the ball in so easily.”
With 20 seconds left in overtime: Keller goes up for a shot, only to have it blocked by Munzer. She gathers the ball and races down the court untouched for what could have been the game-sealing layup. Instead, she bounces the ball across court to junior Lucy Hoffman, who finishes the scoring for Highland Park.
The stat sheet for Munzer: 20 rebounds, three steals, six charges taken and too-numerous-to-mention tipped balls — along with 24 points.
But the final play was vintage Munzer.
“I could have taken it but I love seeing my teammates score,” Munzer said. “Lucy was hustling and I wanted to give it to her. She deserved it.” ~.