This was the team New Trier coach Teri Rodgers envisioned when she started piecing together the roster in her mind last summer.
But after a multitude of injuries left New Trier short-handed for much of the year, the Trevians are finally putting it together down the stretch. On Saturday at Northwestern University, they played one of their more complete games of the season, defeating Evanston, 52-32.
“I thought we distributed the ball well. I was really pleased with that,” Rodgers said. “We shared the ball and moved the ball better than we have in a long time.”
New Trier jumped on the Wildkits early and it was the Trevian bench players who provided the boost. Midway through the first quarter, Colleen McConnell got inside for a layup. Briana Berceau followed with a runner in transition and the Trevians had a quick 9-2 lead.
Better ball movement resulted in open looks for New Trier to start the second quarter. Megan Hoch and Maggie Lyon knocked down back-to-back three-pointers and Brigit Ieuter received a pass inside for an easy lay-in to put New Trier up by 15 points, 23-8.
But Evanston rallied back before halftime by pushing the pace and getting out in transition. Leiya English drove in for layups on two straight Wildkit possessions and Sierra Clayborn went coast to coast for a running layup. At halftime Evanston had cut the Trevian lead to just eight, 27-19.
“Physically we were just drained early on. We dug ourselves a whole and we had to fight our way out of it and that’s unfortunately not a good thing against a good team like New Trier,” Evanston coach Steve Wool said. “You can’t dig yourself a whole and expect to get out of it.”
While each team committed six turnovers in a sloppy third quarter, New Trier made a late run to extend their lead. After Maggie Lyon came up with a steal, Berceau found McConnell for an easy layup. With just under a minute to go it was McConnell again converting with a short jumper off the glass.
The Trevians held Evanston scoreless for the final three minutes of the quarter and led 41-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
“That was one of the better defensive games we’ve played all year,” Rodgers said. “I thought Brigit and Meg Rosinski both did a really nice job of limiting [Leiya English’s] penetrations and we had great help.”
Evanston made one last push to start the fourth quarter, scoring the first seven points and cutting the lead to 10 with four minutes to go. New Trier seemed out of sorts, turning the ball over six times in the first four minutes.
But senior Abbey Schmitt -- who was playing in only her third game of the season after tearing her ACL last summer – clinched the victory for New Trier. She hit three mid-range jumpers in the last three minutes and New Trier finished on an 11-1 run.
Schmitt played only in spurts during Saturday’s game as Rodgers and the coaching staff monitored her minutes.
“I definitely need to work on my stamina, especially on this long court at Northwestern,” Schmitt said. “It was a little tough but I just keep working at it and keep running every day. I’m definitely not where I used to be, but I think I’m getting there.”
Lyon had an off-night shooting the basketball, but finished with 13 points for the Trevians.
New Trier will face Maine West on Tuesday in the semi-finals of the Niles West regional. The Trevians beat Maine West, 55-32, back in December.
“I wish we had a whole ‘nother week of the regular season, a couple weeks actually,” Rodgers said. “We’re going to head to the playoffs though and this is a good momentum-builder for us.”