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Girls basketball: Westminster, Elgin take care of business

Westminster Christian's Maddie Versluys (12) grabs rebound front ElgAcademy's MelissTrudrung during Jan. 11 game. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media

Westminster Christian's Maddie Versluys (12) grabs a rebound in front of Elgin Academy's Melissa Trudrung during a Jan. 11 game. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 12, 2013 1:39AM

Elgin and Westminster Christian’s girls basketball teams played close games the last two years, and they’re expecting more of the same Tuesday night at Westminster when they play what essentially is the championship game of the first Elgin City Classic.

“We’ve played two barn burners against them the last two years and I won’t be surprised if it’s the same thing,” said Westminster coach Ken Flickinger, whose team beat Elgin in overtime two years ago and on a last-second steal and basket last year.

Both teams took care of business in convincing fashion at Harvest Christian on Friday night by relying on up-tempo styles their opponents couldn’t handle.

After a slow start, the Maroons turned back host Harvest Christian 43-26 to win three straight games for the first time in six years. Westminster, meanwhile, forced one turnover after another to bury Elgin Academy 61-6 just one game after Elgin Academy had won its tournament opener over Harvest Christian.

“We were trying some different things,” Elgin coach Nick Bumbales said about a slow start that saw his team fall behind 10-4 against the Lions, who had just six players Friday night. “It took a while to get into a flow with some things, but by the middle of the second quarter we had it looking better.”

The change for Elgin was more trapping on its press.

“It’s not something we’ve done a lot of,” Bumbales said. “We’re just trying to trap a little more out of it instead of playing just man to man and denying. By the middle of the second quarter we got part of it down, but there’s still some things we need to work on and we’ll continue to do that.”

The 10-0 run Harvest Christian hit Elgin with in the first quarter for a 10-4 lead was inspired largely by guard Kylee Knox, who hit a three-pointer and a free throw, and Rachel Oostdyk, who had three first-quarter points. But the Maroons quickly got going at the offensive end behind its post players.

Tamara Milosevic finished the night with 12 points, while Abby Pierre-Louis came off the bench for a game-high 14 points. Pierre-Louis scored 10 in the second quarter when Elgin outscored Harvest Christian 21-3.

“The posts did a good job,” Bumbales said. “They’re a lot bigger than (Harvest) and Abby is obviously a lot quicker. I was very happy about their play.”

Maggie Powers and Kristin Tayag contributed six points each for the Maroons, while Destiny West hauled down a team-high six rebounds. Anneliese Herman led Harvest (2-15) with seven points.

Westminster got three three-pointers and 15 points from guard McKaila Hays, 13 points and 10 rebounds from forward Maddie Versluys and 10 points by Clarie Speweik in its rout of Elgin Academy (8-8).

Using their press, the Warriors kept Elgin Academy scoreless until 7:08 remained in the second quarter, and forced 17 first-quarter turnovers.

“I wasn’t really impressed with our start,” Flickinger said. “We were too sloppy with the ball and with our passes on offense. It’s a part of our game that got better as the game went on, though.”

Westminster Christian hit 52 percent from the floor (25-of-48) on the night and reserve Emma Kovachevich brought some inspired play to the court in the second half with eight points.

Flickinger thinks it’s a good matchup against Elgin because the teams are similar in some ways.

“They’ve got some taller players, like we do,” he said. “And both of us like to play at a faster pace. So it’s going to be interesting.”

Westminster (13-4) has won six of its last seven and is 3-0 in the four-game tournament, so a win over Elgin (6-13), which is the only other unbeaten team, would mean a title. Elgin, though, would need to win over Westminster, then beat Elgin Academy on Jan. 18 at Chesbrough Field House to lock up the title.

“Both of our games with Westminster have been closely contested,” Bumbales said. “They’re playing really well right now. It’s at their place and they’re hitting on all cylinders, and I have to say they’re the favored team. But we’re going to be up for the battle.”

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