CALUMET TWP. | With a fierce February feel and two hours of emotional back-and-forth play, Bishop Noll girls basketball coach Vanita Gary was still coaching 10 minutes after the final horn.
Her leadership had nothing to do with rebounding, screening or hitting free throws.
While those things are key, this bench order was the culmination of the other items.
“We've never done this before,” Gary said as Elena Sobilo stood at the top of a ladder with scissors in her hands. “Cut it there and get down. Who's next?”
For the second Saturday night in a row, Times No. 3 Noll took on No. 6 Whiting with a championship on the line. For the second week in a row, the Warriors won.
The 56-52 win over the Oilers (16-3) gave the Warriors the Greater South Shore Conference Tournament championship inside Calumet High School's fieldhouse.
The Warriors jumped out to a 21-7 lead after one quarter as Noll (17-1) hit three 3-pointers and hawked Whiting's Bri Blackwell with a blanket.
“This is so great,” Noll freshman Naomi House said. “We hadn't beaten Whiting in a decade and to beat them again shows that we're the better team.
“This shows everyone who we really are and what the Warriors are made of.”
House led the Warriors with 16 points. She nailed two treys in the first quarter to get the big league, but the Oilers would not go away without a severe fight.
On the back of Citlali Lopez and Abby Bondi, Whiting got within a point once in the fourth quarter and within three twice. Bondi hit three 3s in the fourth quarter on her way to 23 points.
“We can't come out flat against a good team like that,” Whiting coach Kevin Moynihan said. “After the first quarter we were facing too big of a hole, but our kids never quit. We could've quit and been down 40-20.
“We made a great comeback, but I think we were a little tired the last few minutes.”
House nailed a 3 with 2:21 left in the game that gave the Warriors a seven-point lead.
The Warriors now hold a 2-0 lead in the season series. It is likely the two teams will play again in the Class 2A sectional. The winner of that game will be the one people remember the most.
“That's what we're hoping for,” Moynihan said.
Brenda Pennington scored 13 for the Warriors and also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“I just do whatever I can to help the team,” she said.
Gary was quoting scripture after the game.
“Faith without works is dead,” she said. “Our motto is believe this season. Our kids have worked so hard for this.
Lopez finished with 17 points and had a great floor game in the Oilers comeback.