Rolling Meadows locks in on defense, downs Cary-Grove

After watching film from its Libertyville Christmas tourney, Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky knew what the Mustangs needed to work on.

"For the last couple of days, our only focus was talking on defense, boxing out and rebounding." said Mustangs 6-foot-4 junior center Roisin Grandberry. "And this was a good chance to show what we've been working on and to show we're trying to be a new team in the new year. I think it was a good performance."

Grandberry's performance was stellar on Wednesday night as she helped lead the Mustangs past visiting Cary-Grove, 28-22, with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocked shots and 2 steals.

"I thought Roisin was really all over the court," Kirkorsky said. "We did a lot of the defense and rebounding things we worked on over the break which was a good thing for us."

Also good for the Mustangs was 8 rebounds apiece from junior Olivia Zielinski (5 points) and senior Cassidy Pardini (6 points), who also had 4 steals. Junior Anna Kast had 3 assists.

"It's nice to have Cassidy back," Kirkosky said. "She was out with a concussion at our Christmas tournament games. She brings senior leadership and toughness and makes a big impact for us. OIivia did a lot of tough things. And I thought our freshman point guard (Elizabeth Andriano who had 6 points) handled their press pretty well all game."

Zielinski hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Meadows in front 5-2 with 3:35 left in the first quarter.

Sophomore Aubrey Lonergan's driving layup cut the deficit to 5-4.

A rebound and 6-footer by Grandberry put Meadows in front 7-4 before Lonergan (5 points) struck with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 7-7 with 32 seconds left.

Andriano's driving layup with nine seconds left gave the hosts a 9-7 advantage after one quarter.

Meadows (8-7) outscored the Trojans 9-0 in the second quarter, getting two baskets from Grandberry, one apiece from Andriano and Zielinski and a free throw by Kast for an 18-7 cushion.

Pardini's beautiful scoop shot while falling to the floor gave Meadows a 22-11 lead midway through the third quarter.

The Trojans (8-6) got to within 24-17 at quarter's end, thanks to a bucket by junior Morgan Haslow with 1:32 left.

The visitors closed to within 24-19 on senior Annika Nordin's basket with 5:22 left in the game but Meadows answered with Grandberry's fourth field goal and a baseline drive and layup by Kast to pull away to a 28-19 lead with just 2:32 left. Freshman Malaina Kurth's 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left accounted for the 28-22 final score.

"We played hard," said Cary-Grove coach Tony Moretti. "We just couldn't get on a roll offensively and help ourselves get back into the game. One of the things we do best is that we play hard all the time. We're a young team and we are learning. We learned a lot about ourselves tonight."

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