Moriartys complete effort lifts Christian Liberty past IMSA
Jess Moriarty was the Class 1A 3-point shooting queen last March.
She is a sophomore guard who hustles up and down the floor looking to make passes, shoot from the outside or drive to the basket.
But after scoring 13 points to help lead Christian Liberty Academy to a 34-22 victory over Illinois Math and Science on Monday, guess what the 5-foot-5 native of Hoffman Estates was most excited about?
"The first thing she says to me is 'Coach, how many rebounds did I have?' " said Chargers coach Steve Rowland who told her a career-high 11. "I said 'There you go Jess, I love it!' "
Due to foul trouble to a fellow guard at one point, Moriarty had to move to a weakside perimeter position.
"And when we do that, she loves to go after the rebounds," Rowland said. "That's an indication of the kind of player she is. She is phenomenal."
Moriarty finished with the first double-double of her career and the Chargers improved to 5-1 and 2-0 in the Northeastern Athletic Conference.
"I thought she (Moriarty) was the best player on the court," said IMSA coach Keith McIntosh, whose team is 0-7. "She knows what she is doing. She handles the ball well and does a lot of good things. She does not turn the ball over."
The outcome wasn't decided until the final six minutes. That's when the Chargers finished with a 10-0 run, capped by junior guard Megan Sullivan's 2 free throws with 40 seconds left.
The Chargers held IMSA to 1 field goal the last 10 minutes.
"It's defense that wins game, said Sullivan, who collected 11 points (1 3-pointer) and 5 assists. "That's what coach tells us all the time. We were mixing it up with zone and man-to-man and I think we are really improving with that. And offensively, we are working a lot better."
Rowland thought it was the Chargers best defensive game of the season.
"I thought our hustle on defense is what made the difference, especially in the fourth quarter." he said. "Our defense is starting to come around. Since the get-go, I've talked about how we wanted to change our focus toward defense.
"And in a close game like this one, I thought the kids really recognized that. I'm really proud of the kids."
Besides guards Moriarty and Sullivan, the other Charger who scored was 5-11 junior center Shelbi Hernandez (10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals). Freshman guard Samantha Amedin grabbed 6 rebounds while junior guard Vivian Barclay had 3 steals.
"It feels good," said Moriarty, who also had 3 assists. "We finally played a real nice defensive game. It's the first time we were really all talking on the court. I'm so proud of everyone on my team."
And Rowland was proud of his game-high rebounder.
"Guards are always looking to drive and score, but Jess is constantly looking to do what will benefit the team. If it means going in there with the big girls and getting rebounds, that's what she'll do."
And Monday, she did it like never before in her young career.
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