Toni Kokenis has toed the line between assertiveness and unselfishness for this year's Hinsdale Central team.
At times she just has to take over.
Kokenis did midway through the fourth quarter of Friday's game at Glenbard West, scoring 6 points during a key two-minute stretch of the Red Devils' 33-28 win.
Trailing 26-23, Kokenis stole a rebound away from a Glenbard West player and hit a baseline jumper, then made a fadeaway from the baseline to give Hinsdale Central (16-7, 9-1 West Suburban Silver) the lead for good. After a pair of Lauren Franke free throws, Kokenis scored in transition to make it 31-26 with 4:01 left.
"I just want to do what I can to help our team win," Kokenis said, "especially at the end of the game when we might need a few points to build momentum."
Kokenis, who finished with 17 points, 4 assists and 3 steals, later hit 2 free throws with 6.3 seconds to ice the win. The Red Devils, three-time defending Silver champions, kept pace with Proviso West atop the league.
"This was an important one for conference," Kokenis said. "There's not many games left. Every one matters."
Glenbard West (13-10, 4-5), who goes to Proviso West tonight, could gain some satisfaction in defeat. The Hilltoppers were coming off a 74-55 loss to Bartlett, and the result Friday was a far cry from a 21-point setback at Hinsdale in December.
"We played very well defensively," Glenbard West coach Mike Hofland said. "Last time we played them we were in man, and we just ran out of gas. This time we stayed with our 1-3-1 zone. The girls were talking nonstop, which is the key to defense. I was really pleased with that. The girls responded today."
Kokenis scored 9 points in the first half, but Glenbard West took a 19-16 lead into the break. The Stanford recruit didn't attempt a shot in the third quarter. Not an ideal scenario, but not entirely by accident.
"We're trying to change things around a little bit," Hinsdale Central coach Lindsey Montgomery said, "get some different people involved in the offense. It's a fine line. You don't want to tell Toni not to shoot."
Adabelle Ekechukwu added 7 points and 8 rebounds and Franke 5 points and 9 boards for the Red Devils, who won their fourth straight.
Abby Hastings, who missed the first Hinsdale Central game with a concussion, scored 9 points for Glenbard West. Cayla Herbst had 8 points and 9 rebounds and Abbey White 7 points. Despite a big size advantage, the Hilltoppers shot just 5 free throws - making 1 - and were held to 2 points over the final 6:12 after a Herbst basket had made it 26-23.
"Shooting five free throws," Hofland said, "with our height, that shouldn't happen. We're heading in the right direction, though. The key is to keep building confidence."