LOCKPORT – Not many girls basketball teams have the luxury of using all of their players and having 10 different athletes score in their season opening game.
Lockport coach Dan Kelly has such a team this season, and that’s why there already is a lot of optimism about how well his team might perform.
In Tuesday’s contest between the Porters and visiting Romeoville, things didn’t start off that well offensively, but a strong defensive effort helped to kick-start the attack, and the hosts used some big runs to roll to a 62-28 nonconference victory.
“From the beginning, our defense was what it needed to be,” Kelly said. “Offensively, we had some kinks to work through, and maybe some of the girls had first-game jitters. But I told them to keep shooting the ball since we were getting good looks. I liked the way that we were playing since we were trying to play fast.
“This group is 14-strong and we’re planning to use our depth to wear teams down. We’re really fortunate to have so many girls who can play the game at a pretty high level. We’re really excited about this season, and I’m just happy that the girls are buying into what we’re teaching. Our girls are competitive with each other, and that makes the team better. And we no have no egos and they’ve bought in that as a group of 14, we can be really strong.”
The Spartans (0-1) took their final lead at 5-4 late in the first quarter on an three-point play from Monique Bradshaw (four points). The Porters (1-0) moved in front for good on a bucket from Megan James (seven points) shortly before the buzzer.
Lockport carried that momentum into the second quarter as it scored the next 18 points to build a 24-5 lead. Jacqueline Maka (nine points) scored six points, and Taylor Hopkins (12 points) added four points during that decisive run.
“We’re all on the same page, and everyone has the same goals this year,” Hopkins said. “We want to compete and let people know that Lockport is here, we’re ready and we’re not going to back down. With the style of play that we want, going up and down the court, it’s good to know that when five girls go out that five good ones come in. People say you’re as strong as your weakest player, and our weakest player is still good. I like how we communicate with each other. No one’s afraid to say what needs to be done and everybody’s opinion matters.”
Lockport claimed a 28-11 halftime lead, but then added only two points to its cushion to take a 40-21 advantage into the final eight minutes. But the hosts opened up the fourth quarter with another long run, this time a 16-0 outburst.
Other leaders for the Porters were Destiny Davis (eight points), Taylor Shingler (seven points), Jenna Cotter (six points), Payton Grcevic (four points) and Sawyer Hollatz (four points). Romeoville was paced by Lindsay Novak (11 points), Karina Ortiz (five points) and Damia Patton (four points).
“Everyone played good together and no one was selfish with the ball,” Davis said. “We’re kind of a young team, so it’s good that we can all play together. Everyone has been bonding really well and we’ve had good, hard practices where we all really push each other.”