Poor shooting fells Elgin

If the Elgin High girls basketball team hopes to take strides forward this season coach Dr. Nick Bumbales knows his team will have to find a way to put the ball in the basket more consistently. It was something the Maroons struggled with on Thursday night in a 42-33 loss to Willows Academy in the semifinals of the Elgin Academy Thanksgiving Tournament.

The Maroons connected on just 13-of-57 (23 percent) of their shots from the field.

"We struggled offensively," Bumbales said. "I thought we did a better job of taking care of the basketball and we got some good shots. That it is positive step. The shots just weren't going in. I think we are still shying away around the basket and need to get more aggressive going up with the ball."

The Maroons are really struggling to create any offense from the perimeter. They made just one basket from outside of 12 feet against Willows Academy. The lack of an outside shooting threat is making it difficult to break opposing team's zone defenses.

"We expect teams to do that against us," Bumbales said. "We are going to have to make the adjustments. And also we need to take advantage when we get the ball inside or get a rebound."

Abby Pierre-Louis had 9 points to lead the Maroons in scoring. She also had 10 rebounds. Destiny West and Alisha Panthier each added 7 points.

The Maroons (1-2) fell behind 9-3 in the first quarter and trailed 20-13 at the break.

Willows Academy began to pull away with an 8-2 run midway through the third to extend its lead to double digits for the first time at 30-19. Junior guard Maura Walsh had a pair of baskets during the run. She finished with a team-high 16 points.

"We did a good job of distributing the ball around," Walsh said. "We didn't let them focus in on one target. We have a lot of new players on the team, so its exciting to see us come together and play well in these first two games."

The Maroons were able to get to within 33-25 midway through the fourth quarter on a basket by Leesa Mena, but could get no closer.

Bridget Burch added 12 points for Willows. All of her points came on 6 buckets in the post, including a pair in the fourth quarter to help keep the Eagles in charge.

Willows Academy (2-0) advances to play in Saturday's championship game. Elgin will play for third place at 2 p.m. Saturday.

"We didn't know exactly what to expect coming into the season because we are such a young team,' Willows coach Gerry Kenny said. "But these first two games have been a pleasant surprise. We are playing very well."

  Elgin's Mimi Hernandez and Willows Academy's Eileen Stoll claw for the ball Thursday in the semifinal game of the Elgin Academy girls basketball tournament. John Starks/
  Willows Academy's Maura Walsh looks for teammate Mo Conroy as they push the ball up court against Elgin Thursday in the semifinal game of the Elgin Academy girls basketball tournament. John Starks/
  Elgin's Leesa Mena defends Willows Academy's Eileen Stoll Thursday in the semifinal game of the Elgin Academy girls basketball tournament. John Starks/
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