Downers North rallies to beat Downers South

Downers Grove South wanted to send a message early in Wednesday’s game.

Seconds into the game, Downers Grove South flexed its muscles and aggressively attacked the boards against Downers Grove North. After scoring just 25 points in their double-digit loss to the Trojans earlier this season, the Mustangs showed they were a different team in the second meeting.

“The first time we played them we didn’t show our full potential,” Downers Grove South coach Lyndsie Long said. “We’ve gotten a lot better since that first matchup. We’ve grown and showed it the last month and a half.”

Despite trailing for most of the first half, the Trojans pulled away in the third quarter to record a 51-43 victory over the Mustangs in the West Suburban Conference crossover championship game at Willowbrook High School.

“We knew Downers Grove South would play tough,” Downers Grove North coach Stephan Bolt said. “We knew they had gotten a ton better and this would be a good gear-up for the playoffs to see where we are at. We had to get settled in and had some other kids step up to get it done.”

The Trojans, who won the West Suburban Silver for the first time since 2014, gained another signature victory. Downers Grove North (28-3) had three players in double figures, led by Hope Sebek’s 18 points on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. Freshman Campbell Thulin showed her toughness in the no-holds-barred physical game, racking up 14 points and six rebounds and hitting two key 3s. Senior Kaitlyn Parker added 14 points and four steals.

Sebek, a senior guard, played a leading role in the comeback victory, hitting a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give her team a 24-23 lead. In the fourth quarter, she scored five points in a three-possession span, highlighted by a 3-pointer for a 44-39 lead.

“It was a very rough game with a lot of ups and downs,” Sebek said. “We beat them earlier this season, so we knew they would give it all they got. This was an important game. We held our own. I felt I was in a rhythm shooting and my teammates got me open.”

The Mustangs (17-13) played stellar in the first three quarters, especially in the first half. They sealed off the boards, limiting the Trojans’ second-chance opportunities, were aggressive on defense and made scoring in the paint difficult for their neighborhood opponent.

But the Trojans have played stellar all season, winning games in a number of ways to inch closer to a 30-win season.

The West Suburban Conference championship game was no different.

Downers Grove South seized leads of 16-10 and 19-12 before Thulin sparked the Trojans’ comeback with a 3-pointer and a three-point play on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter.

Thulin also started the fourth-quarter surge with an early basket, as the Trojans locked down on defense to hold the Mustangs without a field goal in their final eight possessions.

“It was a very physical (game) and we were prepared for anything and in the end, we pulled together as a team,” Thulin said. “We took halftime as a reflection time and supported each other. It’s been a fun year. It’s been an amazing experience this year.”

The Mustangs couldn’t sustain their momentum due to some foul trouble combined with Downers Grove North’s tough defense. Downers Grove South sophomore center Megan Ganschow showed her immense potential with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Allison Jarvis poured in 13 points and handed out three assists. After shooting 10-of-16 in the first half, the Mustangs were 6-of-17 in the final two quarters.

“We came out in the first quarter and worked hard,” Long said. “We did our game plan but ended up getting in some foul trouble. Our girls battled and were within two possessions for most of the game.”

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