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posted: 2/12/2010 12:01 AM

Westmont eliminates Lisle from regional

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By Neil Shalin

The Lisle game plan was purring along just fine with the Lions leading Westmont by 3 points midway through the second quarter - and then something happened.

That something was Westmont's full-court press that spurred it to a 16-2 run and an 11-point halftime lead.

The Sentinels went on to win 46-37 for the Class 2A Lisle regional championship, beating their Interstate Eight Conference co-champions for the second time this year.

"We wanted to get them off-balance when they saw the press," said sophomore guard Jackie Zakhem of Westmont, the game's high scorer with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. "I think we rattled them a little at first."

"We didn't think they liked to dribble too much," said Westmont coach Mike McCord. "We thought we could slow them down by pressing."

The press didn't result in many turnovers but it did force the Lions (21-8) into a hurry-up offense that led to some ill-advised outside shooting.

"During that run we were taking horrible shots," said Lisle coach Jeff Javior. "The press just made us fly down the court so fast and we started just throwing up shots instead of working the ball inside. And when our shots weren't falling, they were getting the rebounds."

It was a double-digit lead the rest of the way for the Sentinels (26-3), except in the last four minutes when the Lions cut it to 9 several times.

"In the fourth quarter they held the ball for long stretches and we weren't getting on top of them enough to get the ball back," Javior said. "When you're 10 down you have to get the ball back. Our defense usually makes our offense, and our defense just wasn't there."

In addition to Zakhem, the Sentinels got big games from post players Sara Sternard and Allison Berg, both of whom scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Sternard, a 6-foot-2 center, clogged the middle and blocked 4 shots.

Zakhem hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter to give Westmont a 13-10 lead at the end of the period.

Lisle's offense came to life in the second period as a 9-3 run put it up by 3 before the Sentinels took control of the game.

Darian Payne led Lisle with 11 points and 7 rebounds off the bench. Colleen Drennan and Nicole Urban came up with 4 steals each for the Lions.

While disappointed with the loss, Javior said it didn't do anything to diminish the team's excellent season.

"I expected us to be good, better than last year," he said. "But not in my wildest dreams did I expect a season like this. And to make it even better, this is a great bunch of kids.

"Everywhere we went, opposing coaches, players and fans went out of their way to tell us how nice and kind our players are. And combine this with how well they played all year, and you really have something."