McMahon, Rolling Meadows start fast, shoot past Wheeling

With good height inside and solid guard play outside, Rolling Meadows senior Ciara McMahon likes the makeup of this season's Mustangs girls basketball team.

"I think we can all work together to have a good in-and-out game," said the 5-foot-7 guard. "We have all the pieces. We just have to keep using them in the games."

The Mustangs used McMahon's sharp shooting on Friday night as she hit three 3-pointers from the right side in the game's first four minutes to help stake her team to an 11-0 lead. Meadows (7-0, 1-0) never looked back en route to a 51-15 victory over visiting Wheeling (2-8, 0-1) in the Mid-Suburban League East opener.

A 3-pointer by 5-foot-11 senior guard/forward Olivia Zielinski (5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists) followed by back-to-back buckets by Loyola-bound 6-4 senior Roisen Grandberry (8 points, 3 rebounds) made it 20-0 after one quarter. Grandberry's first bucket came on a soft entry pass from her 6-4 sophomore sister Dalia (5 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds), who is also receiving Division I offers.

"They're (Grandberry sisters) obviously both so talented," said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "But they're both so unselfish and they want to see the best for each other and all their teammates."

First-year Wheeling coach and former Wildcats great Kellie Kuzmanic Braase said Meadows' big start might have swayed her team's mentality a little bit.

"I think it slowed us down physically," she said. "We were a little shocked by that, I would have liked to have seen my team have a little more tenacity and come out and play a little more physically and with more energy."

But midway through the second quarter the Wildcats outscored Meadows 11-3, getting 9 points during the run from their leading scorer senior guard Marlena Miloucheva and a bucket from freshman guard Kate Ning (4 points), who came off the bench.

Zielinski wrestled the ball away from a Wildcat for a rebound and layup and sophomore Abby Ramel (8 points, 4 rebounds) converted a putback with 43.3 seconds until half to give Meadows a 30-11 lead at intermission.

"I think the big thing for us is to consistently play the right way on both ends of the court," Kirkorsky said. "And if you watched us early in the game, I felt we got the right shot every time down the floor."

Four of those shots were 3-pointers by McMahon, who ended up with a game-high 12 points.

"As long as I've known Ciara (4 of 6 from 3-point range) she has worked so hard in becoming a great shooter," Kirkorsky added. "She has really earned that in her career and I'm happy for her to knock down a couple early."

"We've been doing a lot more conditioning in practice," said McMahon, who also had 3 steals. "And I really think it helps us to be prepared for our games," McMahon said. "We are talking on defense and doing all the small things on the court."

Freshman Nell Osterhues (6 points) had a pair of 3-pointers for Meadows while sophomore guard Elizabeth Andriano (5 assists, 2 rebounds) had one from long range. Senior Emily Romanacce (2 rebounds) added 4 points while freshman Anna Andriano hit a free throw in the final quarter.

Miloucheva finished with 11 for the Wildcats.

"At half, we regrouped and set some goals on smaller things," Braase said. "We said, 'Let's not focus on the score, let's focus on the little things like box outs, making solid passes, running our offense, executing the little things and hopefully all those will add up.'

"We're just young (two freshmen and a sophomore in the starting five) and still trying to learn. We're trying to get girls on the floor and in the mix and let them realize varsity basketball is kind of the big leagues and get them used to the tempo. That's where we're at right now."

The Mustangs are at 7-0 with some big games ahead.

"Tonight was a great start to the conference," Roisen Grandbery said. "No complaints."

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