Collins gets career-best 38 as Maine West wins

Maine West senior Brittany Collins hit the 1,591 mark for career points on Thursday.

The Warriors’ guards hit Collins with pinpoint passes all night.

The Saint Xavier recruit took advantage for a career-high 38 points, including a career-best half (23 in the first two quarters) to help lead the Warriors to a 68-58 victory over Niles North in a Central Suburban North girls basketball opener in Des Plaines.

The Warriors improved to 5-3 overall while Niles North is 3-3.

“It was definitely our best game for passing this season,” said Collins, a four-year starter who recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 14 rebounds. “The speed of our passing is getting better and we are getting smarter with our passes.”

Collins recently passed Dawn Vana and Donna Logisz to move into second on West’s all-time scoring list and needs 58 points to take the top spot, currently held by 2005 graduate Megan Edwards with 1,648.

Niles North also had an impressive offensive performance from junior forward Kienya Jones, who scored 22 points despite early foul trouble which limited her playing time.

“We knew we would have our hands full with Collins,” said Niles North coach Dan Paxson. “And Kienya is our strongest player. We were counting on her to defend Collins so we had to make some adjustments.”

Moments after Collins’ post partner and classmate Julia Huinker got a hearty ovation for her rendition of the national anthem, the Warriors were fans were applauding again as their team raced out in front 15-2.

Collins (16-of-19 from the floor) and Huinker each had a pair of buckets in the first three minutes for an 8-0 lead.

Senior guard Abbey Herling, who led West with 7 assists, zipped a nifty pass into Collins for a layup which gave West an 18-6 lead.

Huinker, who also benefitted from the guards’ passing, scored 16 points and added 3 assists herself while point guard Erin Ross (5 points) handed out 5 assists and tossed in a key 3-pointer in the third quarter.

Niles North was able to stay within striking distance throughout the contest with the help seven 3-pointers, including three by guard Shar Rasho in the first half.

Rasho finished with 13 points while sophomore Olivia Schaps had 15, including a pair of 3 pointers in the second half.

“Shar was feeling it,” Paxson said of the senior’s 3-point accuracy. “And I thought Olivia was outstanding. Her skills are really good and I don’t think she even knows it.”

The Warriors knew they were not home free in the fourth quarter when the Vikings overcame an 18-point deficit (56-38) late in the third quarter and got to within 61-54 on a steal and layup by Jones with under four minutes left.

“Kienya Jones is a terrific player,” said Warriors coach Derril Kipp. “She will give any teams problems. She plays hard.

“We weren’t getting good shots (when Niles North was closing the gap in the fourth quarter). We stopped getting the ball inside.”

But the Warriors refocused and never let the Vikings closer.

A layup by Huinker and Collins’ 3-point play made it 66-54 with 2:19 left.

“This is an exciting way to start conference,” said Collins (4 steals, 4 assists, 2 blocked shots), whose 38 points are the second-most in school history for a single game. “It gives us confidence for our next conference game on Tuesday (against visiting Glenbrook North.”

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