The last name is synonymous with North Chicago basketball.
And the North Chicago girls basketball team’s unleashing of 6-foot freshman Tineesha Coleman in the Class 3A Johnsburg regional this week was, well, cold, man.
Carmel Catholic will attest after its 64-60 loss to the upset-minded Warhawks in Friday night’s regional final.
Consider that the second-seeded Corsairs sought their second regional championship in as many years against a Warhawks squad that came in seeded 10th and sporting a losing record.
But playing in just her third varsity game, Coleman was a major difference-maker. She was unstoppable underneath the basket, pouring in a game-high 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, including 9 killer ones on the offensive glass. She is the granddaughter of North Chicago boys basketball coach Gerald Coleman.
“She killed us on offensive rebounds,” said Carmel’s Cassidy Kloss, who came off the bench to score 18 of her team-high 20 points in the first half, sinking three 3-pointers in the second quarter. “She was a tough player to defend.”
It was the first regional championship for North Chicago (13-14) since 1970. The Warhawks will play No. 3 Regina Dominican (17-8) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Vernon Hills sectional semifinals.
“They’re peaking right now,” coach Laurence Brown said of his Warhawks.
“All of us kept our heads up,” North Chicago senior Natajjae Franklin, who scored 11 points and hit her team’s only 3-pointer, said after her team rallied from a seven-point deficit at halftime. “We came here to win.
“We made it,” she added, smiling. “We got our win.”
Carmel, whose victory Wednesday over Johnsburg gave the Corsairs their first 20-win season since going 26-6 in 2004-05, finished 20-10. The up-tempo game featured 66 turnovers, including 36 by North Chicago, which dominated the offensive boards, grabbing 18.
“I thought we played into what (North Chicago) wanted to do,” Carmel coach Kelly Perz said. “They were really physical.”
North Chicago also got strong play inside from 6-foot senior Justince Moore, who had 9 rebounds and 6 points. Brown said it was the decision of Coleman’s parents to keep her on the freshman team this season. She played one regular-season game, against Marshall, for the varsity and flashed her potential in that game too. She was clutch down the stretch against Carmel, with her putback with 1:07 left giving North Chicago the lead for good at 61-60.
Coleman hit another free throw with 15.7 seconds left, after stealing the ball under Carmel’s basket. She scored 7 points in the fourth.
“She has everything,” Brown said. “She’s better than the players that I have up already. She’s going to be a great player, as long as she keeps listening and is patient.”
Behind Kloss’ hot shooting, Carmel led 32-25 at halftime. But Coleman scored 10 points in the third quarter in helping North Chicago outscore the Corsairs 24-9. Monique Greathouse’s driving layup early in the fourth had the Warhawks up 51-41.
Kathleen Felicelli then helped spark a 9-0 run for Carmel. She scored 7 of her 13 points in the fourth, while center Kayla Quinn had 8 of her 10 points in the final quarter. When Nicole Bitter (5 points, 3 steals) broke the press and scored on a layup with 2:49 left, Carmel had its last and only lead of the fourth at 59-58.
“It was a physical game,” said Kloss, who along with Leah Lach (9 points on 9-of-10 foul shooting) also had 5 steals. “(North Chicago) definitely came ready to play. They were fired up. We just fell apart at the end, and we had some spurts where we just kind of lost it.”
“They were just better than us tonight,” Perz said of the Warhawks. “They executed their game plan well.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.