Downers Grove North can't stay with LT

When senior Olivia Mezan transferred to the Lyons Township girls basketball program before last season, she quickly realized the potential of her talented and special new teammates.

On both ends of the court, Mezan was a big reason Friday why the Lions displayed probably their best quarter to complete a perfect 12-0 West Suburban Conference Silver Division title with an impressive 63-30 victory at second-place Downers Grove North.

"I definitely knew right away coming to the team that we'd definitely be winning conference and that we were a really strong team," said Mezan, who previously played at Montini. "I think we really showed that (Friday). We have so many strengths."

The Lions (24-3) surged to a 19-1 lead after the first quarter by hitting 8 of 14 shots with three 3s and collecting four steals among six turnovers by the Trojans (21-7, 9-3 in Silver) on 13 possessions.

The margin increased to 36-12 by halftime with Mezan scoring 11 of her game-high 15 points.

"We held them to one point and I think we were sharing the ball really well," Mezan said. "Our two main strengths are shooting threes really well (11 Friday) and we're really fast. I feel like tonight we really showed that."

LT won its first Silver title in a full 12-game schedule since back-to-back crowns in 2016 and 2015, its last outright title.

Riding a 12-game winning streak and this week receiving the No. 1 seed for the Class 4A LT Sectional, the Lions showed their postseason potential with that first quarter. LT won the first meeting 31-29 in La Grange Dec. 17 on a late basket by senior Hailey Markworth.

"Defensively, the first game we played really well against them. We didn't shoot well. This time we wanted to incorporate it all like we knew we could," LT coach Meghan Hutchens said. "For them to create seven turnovers and then utilize them at the other end, that's perfect basketball for us."

"Give LT all of the credit in the world. They were awesome tonight, well-coached," Downers North coach Stephan Bolt added. "Right off the bat, they were confident and we couldn't manufacture a stop throughout the first quarter."

In the abbreviated COVID-affected 2021 season, the Lions nearly were perfect in the Silver but shared the title at 5-1 with Downers North and York. LT lost its Silver finale at Downers North on a buzzer-beating bank shot.

"What I like about this group is they don't look at it like we owe team," Hutchens said. "We just look at it like this is a game where we want to come in and we want to win."

LT junior Ally Cesarini had 14 points and sophomore Elin O'Brien had 12. Other contributors were senior Izzy Lee, Markworth, junior Ella Ormsby.

After Mezan scored eight straight points for the Lions with two 3s, they led 30-7 in the second quarter by hitting 12 of their first 19 shots with six 3s.

Mezan and O'Brien each had four threes for the game. O'Brien, who equaled her single-game high, has embraced her shooting role as a key sub along with sophomore post Kennedy Wanless.

"My biggest role is to get hot and shoot hot, shoot 3s," O'Brien said. "I sensed (this season) was a special team with five really strong starters and a strong bench."

Senior Kate Gross led Downers North with her eight points, all in the third quarter, with two 3s. Kaitlyn Parker added six points and Ella Sebek five rebounds.

Trojans' starting senior center Eleanor Harris has remained sidelined by an ankle injury since Jan. 8. Minus three starters, the Trojans lost at Oak Park-River Forest 36-28 Jan. 18. LT beat OPRF 67-29 Tuesday behind Lee's personal-high 26 points.

"We've got to be more aggressive in the right ways," Bolt said. "I think we're a little passive offensively right now. We're trying to find ourselves a little bit down the stretch (this season). We've got a little bit of time to do it."

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