Cord's clutch plays lead Lake Park past Glenbard West

Early in the fourth quarter, Lake Park senior forward Grace Cord noticed teammate Gabi Burgess was in trouble near half-court on Saturday afternoon.

As Burgess struggled to find an open teammate, Cord rushed toward Burgess to help avoid a possible turnover.

Throughout Lake Park's nonconference game against Glenbard West, Cord managed to pick up her teammates with key plays. Cord capped a busy two-day stretch, drilling 5 3-pointers for a team-high 16 points to go with 4 assists in a 50-44 triumph over the Hilltoppers in Roselle.

Michela Barbanente added 10 points and 6 rebounds, Burgess contributed 6 points and 7 assists and Allison Gogola made 2 second-quarter 3s to finish with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. The Lancers (8-3) won for the second time in two days to build some momentum for Thursday's key game at St. Charles North.

Still sporting a small black eye suffered during a game on Dec. 1, Cord buried 5 of her 6 3-point attempts to power the offense for the first three quarters. Cord said she focused solely on basketball due to her love of the sport.

It showed against Glenbard West.

“It's my good luck charm now,” Cord said, laughing about her left eye. “After my first 3-pointer, I was feeling it. I was one for four on (3s) in my last game. I knew that was not me. In this game, once I made that first three, it just felt right. I don't know what was the difference today, maybe the vibe.”

A three-year varsity player, Cord stepped up to lead the Lancers to a victory with her deadeye shooting to improve her season totals to 23-of-58 (39%) on 3s. The Lancers fed off Cord's hot shooting, finishing with 7 3s. Cord hit a trio of 3s in the first quarter, then made her final two in the third.

Lake Park coach Brian Rupp said Cord's a dynamic shooter capable of carrying the offense at times.

“Grace hitting those 3s really sparked us,” he said. “Her shooting (early) really set the tone for us to get the lead. This is a great win for us. Grace is playing really well. I'm trying to get her to have that killer mentality. I actually have to yell at her. She's been our best shooter all year long. When she's hitting, it opens things up for us.”

The Hilltoppers (5-5) struggled scoring through the first two-plus quarters before hitting their stride in the fourth quarter. Senior forward Kennedy Brandt sparked a comeback by tallying 13 of her team-best 15 points in the final quarter. Brandt attacked the basket, drilled a 3-pointer and pushed the pace to help the Hilltoppers slice the deficit to 40-37 with just under 3 minutes left. The Hilltoppers, though, managed just one more basket until Brandt nailed a 3 at the final buzzer. Julia Benjamin and Makenna Yeager both scored 10 points for Glenbard West.

“We had a tough first half, but the kids fought and played hard,” Glenbard West coach Kristi Faulker said. “We've had a lot of close games. Kennedy put in a ton of work in the offseason and it shows on the court. She works really, really hard. It's fun to see that translate from the offseason to now.”

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