The Lincolnwood and Mt. Olive girls basketball teams entered Monday’s game in Mt. Olive on equal footing.
Both teams were looking for their first win of the season, with the Lancers starting out 0-5 and Mt. Olive standing at 0-3. The similarities continued regarding experience as Lincolnwood is in its third season since a 34-year hiatus, while this is Mt. Olive’s first girls basketball team in five years.
As would be expected, the game had its peaks and valleys for both teams, but ultimately, Lincolnwood was able to break through for their first win of the season by a 25-18 final score.
The two teams would be tied at two midway through the first quarter, with Avery Pope scoring for the Lancers and Ellie Borrowman countering from the Wildcats.
With two minutes to play in the quarter, Lincolnwood put together a small offensive burst, getting baskets from Cora Stevens, Taryn Millburg and Pope, whose bucket with 30 seconds left gave the Lancers an 8-2 lead.
Borrowman added her second basket of the game with 16 seconds to cut into the lead, but the Lancers maintained a four-point advantage.
The lead would last through the second quarter, but just barely as Mt. Olive shut down the Lancers over the next eight minutes. The Wildcats didn’t light the nets on fire either, as Lincolnwood held Mt. Olive to just three points, all from Borrowman and all in the final two and a half minutes.
Up 8-7 after halftime, Lincolnwood looked to avoid a second straight scoreless quarter and turned to Pope to get them on the board. The junior guard stepped up and hit a three for the first points of the third, then picked off a Wildcat ball-handler for a steal and score to make it 13-7.
Mt. Olive had trouble with Lincolnwood’s press after the Lancer baskets and turned the ball over again on the next possession. Amanda Seelbach would score the Lancers’ third basket of the first three minutes, with Lilly Terneus adding another a minute later to make it 17-7, giving Lincolnwood their biggest lead of the game.
Just when it looked as if the Lancers might run away with the contest, Mt. Olive fought back, getting back-to-back baskets by Staley Schoen to cut the lead to six. With a minute and 55 seconds to play, Sarah Korunka drove the lane and was fouled, hitting the free throw after the made layup for a three-point play that made it 17-14 in Lincolnwood’s favor.
Needing some breathing room, Lincolnwood held Mt. Olive scoreless after that and Pope hit her second three of the quarter with 12 seconds left to build the lead back up to six going into the fourth quarter.
With eight minutes to go, Coach Justin Millburg stressed patience to the Lancers, who haven’t had many opportunities to play with a lead. Working the ball around for the perfect shot worked well for the Lancers early in the fourth as Pope added five more points to her total, hitting a runner in the lane and a three from the top of the key to make it 25-14 with 5:53 to play.
Borrowman cut the lead to nine on a layup of her own, but Haelee Damm answered for the Lancers with a free throw to get the margin back to double digits. Korunka added two more points with 2:36 to play, but Lincolnwood was able to eat away the clock for the next 150 seconds and come away with the eight-point win.
Pope would finish with 17 points, beating her career best by two. Her 17 points were also the most since Cassie Krager had 20 in last year’s win over Pawnee in February. The school record is 38 points, set by Cindy (Stewart) Roecker in the final game of the 1985 season, the last year of Lincolnwood girls basketball before 2019.
Amanda Seelbach, Taryn Millburg, Cora Stevens and Lilly Terneus also had two points apiece in the win, with Haelee Damm adding one.
Now 1-5 on the year and 1-1 in the MSM Conference, Lincolnwood will try to build on their success on Thursday, Dec. 9, when they host the Vipers of South County. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. for the varsity game, with the JV game to play after.
December 6 at Mt. Olive
Lincolnwood 8 0 12 6 25
Mt. Olive 4 3 7 4 18
Lincolnwood (25) - Avery Pope 17, Amanda Seelbach 2, Taryn Millburg 2, Cora Stevens 2, Lilly Terneus 2. Totals: 11 1-2 25.
Mt. Olive (18) - Ellie Borrowman 9, Sarah Korunka 5, Staley Schoen 4. Totals: 8 2-6 18.
Three-point field goals: Lincolnwood 3 (Pope 3); Mt. Olive 0.
Records: Lincolnwood (1-5,1-1); Mt. Olive (0-4,0-1).
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