Schaumburg hands South Elgin 1st loss

With its tallest player at 5-foot-9, South Elgin has relied on its pressure defense and speedy guards to offset its opponents' height advantage.

It has worked well for the Storm's first 10 games of the season - all victories.

However, Schaumburg successfully applied a strategy to counter the Storm in the third quarter of Saturday's nonconference game in South Elgin to earn a 55-49 come-from-behind victory and give South Elgin its first loss of the season.

Trailing the Storm 36-23 with three minutes left in the third period, Saxon coach Jacqueline Strauch inserted Jackie Tuzil, a 6-footer, in the post position.

Teammates got the ball inside to the senior for four straight baskets as part of a 9-0 run to close out the frame and narrow the Storm's margin to 36-32 to start the fourth quarter.

"We've were telling girls (at halftime) that we had a size advantage and we needed to play in the post a little bit. We needed to make smarter passes," Strauch said. "Jackie is one of our leaders and she went in and posted up and she made smart passes and she got big rebounds. I think that ignited her teammates to start doing the same."

Schaumburg's inside play and South Elgin's cold shooting continued to reduce the Storm's lead during the final period. Finally, with less than four minutes to play, a layup by Madi Dolecki put the Saxons on top 43-42 for the first time since the end of the first quarter. Schaumburg held off South Elgin for the rest of the game.

"Then I wised up as a coach and put both my posts in and I got a little cross screening action," the Schaumburg coach said. "That put us in a place where we got comfortable. It put them on their heels, they started shooting quicker and we rebounded well."

"We are super small, and we finally got exposed down low. Other teams haven't been able to take advantage of that because our pressure defense is so good," said South Elgin coach Dan Mandernack. "They did a really good job of getting down low to their talls and they got some easy buckets and they just hung around. We just kind of fizzled out at the end. In the fourth quarter we were waiting for the one big basket to fall and that didn't happen."

The Storm also trailed the Saxons early in the game, but rallied to take a 25-21 halftime lead. Schaumburg led 13-9 at the 2:07 mark in the first quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Raina Yang (12 points) gave South Elgin a 14-13 lead with less than a minute to play in the period. A Symone Harrell bucket just before the buzzer put the Saxons up 15-14 to start the second quarter.

Baskets by Caroline Croft and Yang returned the advantage to the Storm, 18-15 halfway through the second frame. Croft scored a team-high 14 points.

South Elgin (10-1) started the third quarter on 13-2 run and looked to break the game open. The only Saxon basket was a Alyssa Orozco layup. The senior led all scorers with 15 points.

"We were up four at the half and I didn't think we played really well but we still had the lead," Mandernack said. "We needed to win the first three minutes (of the third quarter). We got it up to 13 and we missed a couple of key shots which I think might just have closed it out."

That's when Tuzil entered the game and the momentum shifted to Schaumburg (7-5). The senior finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

"We needed some energy. As soon as one person steps up and makes a good impact, it has a positive effect on the whole team," Tuzil said.

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