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Aurora Christian's Liz Smith its trapped by Rosary's Karly Tate (left) and Quincy Kellett (right) in Aurora on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media
First-year Rosary girls basketball coach Jessie Wilcox is starting to see some tangible proof that her team is improving at the right time of the year.
Earlier in the season, the Royals had some tough fourth quarters, giving up leads late and not being able to recover.
In Tuesday’s 49-34 Suburban Christian crossover win over Aurora Christian, however, the Royals scored the final seven points of the game after Christian cut the lead to eight with 4:01 left and won going away.
“It’s good to see because earlier in the season, there’s a good chance we could have thrown it away,” Wilcox said. “Every time we were pressured early in the season it was, what kind of team am I going to see tonight? Our team, we have grown so far in two months, they welcome pressure. It’s really good to see that they’re learning, they’re building confidence and they’re having fun now. That always helps in basketball.”
Aurora Christian (14-8) held a 7-6 lead early in the first quarter, but Rosary senior Karly Tate took over to give the Royals the lead for good. She scored 11 of her 22 points in the first quarter and helped key a 10-3 run to end the quarter and stake Rosary (12-10) to a 16-10 lead.
It was the second straight game in which Tate scored 22 points, a career high.
“I’ve had my ups and downs, but now I’m staying on track and doing what’s best for my team,” Tate said. “My confidence is high right now.”
Rosary closed out the third quarter on a 9-2 run to open up a 40-24 lead. Tate scored the final five points of the run after Quincy Kellett (13 points) scored the first six points of the quarter. But the Eagles had some fight in them early in the fourth quarter. Christian opened the fourth on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 42-34 with 4:01 left, but the Eagles never scored again.
“They brought the pressure,” Christian coach Jerry Tokars said. “Give them a lot of credit. But we hung in there. We cut it to eight and we had a (missed lay-up), but when you’re trying to mount a comeback, you need those. In years past, we might have tanked, but they do have fight in them.”
Rosary appears to have things back on track as they head into Saturday’s showdown with powerhouse Montini.
“We’re working more as a team now than we ever have, and that is just boosting our confidence,” Tate said. “We’re peaking at the right time. It’s just going to get better from here.”