Rolling Meadows' surge continues with triumph over Vernon Hills

Rolling Meadows' girls basketball team made the trip to Vernon Hills on Saturday and retained its late-season momentum with a 66-51 nonconference victory.

Coach Ryan Kirkorsky's Mustangs prevailed for the fourth straight time, marking their second-longest winning streak of the season, just one shy of their five in a row in November.

It was the second time in the current streak that Meadows (15-11) placed four girls in double figures.

Senior guard Emily Galvan (19 points, 2 assists), senior Alison Sellergren (11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals), sophomore Roisin Grandberry (10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals) and senior Moira Hickey (10 points, 5 steals, 3 assists) led the way this time as the visitors jumped ahead 7-0 and never looked back.

Grandberry and Galvan each scored inside baskets and then Galvan popped in a 3-pointer for a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.

"We've definitely been emphasizing playing together, especially the seniors," said the 5-foot-6 Galvan, an Illinois Wesleyan recruit. "There are six of us, so we just want to play for each other, and finish on a high note. That's what we've been working toward."

A layup by Jasmine Paddock put the Cougars on the board but the Mustangs answered with a 10-0 run, capped by Galvan's 3-pointer and a steal and layup for a 17-2 cushion with 2:06 left in the quarter.

"Emily kind of just shows up every day," Kirkorsky said. "She puts the work in and I thought that she was really efficient today."

Meadows continued its efficiency in the second quarter, grabbing its biggest lead of the half with a 3-point play by Hickey and a layup by Grandberry that made it 32-11 with 1:46 left. Sellergren's 13-footer in the lane with three seconds left made it 37-15 at the break.

Senior guard Nicole Davis handed out 4 assists and did not commit a turnover for the Mustangs while sophomore Emily Romanacce came off the bench and grabbed 10 rebounds.

The game ended on a 3-pointer with three seconds left by Mustangs sophomore Ciara McMahon.

"I think the kids are playing really hard now and we shared the ball well today," Kirkorsky said. "We kind of want to be moving forward at this time of the season and I think we are doing that."

"We have some big games coming up, like Glenbrook South on Monday and Prospect on Wednesday," Galvan added. "Those will be tough and competitive games so we are excited. We've all been working hard for this time of the season and we are definitely excited for the state tournament to compete as hard as we can."

Grace Koepke, Caylie Zahnow and Ava Barszcz each hit 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the third quarter to close the Cougars' deficit to 56-34 heading into the final period.

Zahnow, a 5-foot-7 sophomore, finished with a career-high 17 points.

"Caylie is a recent call-up from the junior varsity team," said Cougars coach Paul Brettner. "So to have her grow this much in a short period of time is nice to see."

Brettner, a Rolling Meadows grad who has 337 wins in 21 seasons at Vernon Hills, coincidentally also has coached back-to-back state runner-up teams like Kirkorsky. Brettner's Cougars were second in Class 3A in 2012 and 2013 while Kirkorsky's Mustangs were second in Class 4A in 2013 and 2014.

Koepke added 9 points for Vernon Hills (6-12) while Shyanne St. Louis and Barszcz each chipped in 8.

"Despite getting down early to a good team, our hope was that it didn't affect what we did on the court," Brettner added. "And it didn't. They kept battling and they kept fighting.

"You can learn a lot playing against a good team like Rolling Meadows. So we are hoping to take this with us into the end of the season and keep going."

  Rolling Meadows' Emily Galvin, top, tries to take a loose ball from Vernon Hills' Maya Raval during Saturday's game in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard/
  Vernon Hills' Grace Koepke attempts a shot against the defense of Rolling Meadows' Roisin Grandberry, left, and Moira Hickey during Saturday's game in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard/
  Vernon Hills' Grace Koepke, left, and Rolling Meadows' Emily Romanacce go to the floor for a loose ball during Saturday's game in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard/
  Rolling Meadows' Charlotte Errico, left, gets fouled by Vernon Hills' Grace Koepke on a shot during Saturday's game in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard/
  Rolling Meadows' Emily Romanacce tries to pass around Vernon Hills' Grace Koepke during Saturday's game in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard/
  Rolling Meadows' Moira Hickey drives to the basket as Vernon Hill's Shyanne St. Louis defends during Saturday's game in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard/
  Rolling Meadows' Alison Sellergren steals the ball during Saturday's game in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard/
  Rolling Meadows girls basketball coach Ryan Kirkorsky talks to the Mustangs during a timeout at Saturday's game in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard/
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