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Blazers Suffer Disappointing First Loss

Whitney Young handles Trinity 62-47 Saturday in River Forest.

girls basketball coach Ed Stritzel described his team’s 62-47 home loss to Whitney Young Saturday afternoon in one word: Embarrassing.

Stritzel didn’t mince words after watching Young (9-0) overwhelm his Blazers (7-1) in River Forest.

“It’s unbelievably disappointing,” he said. “I’m kind of embarrassed. I have a lot of respect for Whitney Young and we chose not to compete against them today. It came out of left field. We know they’re great, but we played on our heels.”

Both teams entered the marquee matchup ranked in the Top 5 in the area. Young was ranked No. 1 by the Chicago Sun-Times and No. 2 by the Chicago Tribune, while Trinity was No. 4 in the Sun-Times and No. 5 in the Tribune.

“We kept talking all week how we’re going to play loose, that we’re the underdog and we’re the ones who played tight,” Stritzel said.

With the score tied at 11 early in the second quarter, Young rode its press and fast-paced attack to a 15-0 spree that gave the Dolphins a 26-11 lead. Linnae Harper scored 7 of her team-high 18 points in the stretch.

"We like to get up and down the court,” Harper said. “We try to use our quickness to our benefit. Most teams are not as fast as us.”

Young led by as many as 18 in the first half before taking a 34-20 advantage into intermission.

Trinity had trouble keeping up with the Dolphins and that played out in the shooting department. In the first half, the Blazers went 6 for 32 from the field and 7 for 14 from the free-throw line. At one point, they missed the front end of three-straight one-and-one opportunities.

The Blazers cut the gap to 12 twice in the third quarter, but that was as close as they came the rest of the way. Young enjoyed as much as a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Whitney Young point guard Janee Thompson, who’s headed to Kentucky, rang up 14 points, which included some dazzling drives.

Megan Podkowa led Trinity with 15 points and 14 rebounds. The DePaul-bound star shot 6 for 21 from the field.

“Our main focus was Megan,” Harper said. “We knew that she’s one of the best players in the state so we were just focused on her.”

“We knew they were going to beat up Megan inside a little bit, and our other players didn’t help today,” Stritzel said. “The more they didn’t help, the more they could work on Megan.”

Trinity’s Taylor Nazon added 13 points. Eleven of those came in the second half.

The Blazers shot 22 percent (13 for 58) from the field compared to Young’s 42 percent (24 for 57).

“We weren’t able to get back on defense and we weren’t able to finish our layups,” Podkowa said. “I think we were all a little out of sync. I think we were all kind of scared and I don’t think we came out to compete as well as we could have. I definitely think we could have had a better game with them.”

The teams could see each other again. They’re grouped together in the Class 4A Lyons Township sectional.

“It was a statement game,” Harper said. “We came out here to tell everybody that this is what we’re supposed to do. This is supposed to be our win.”

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