CHICAGO | Thornton Fractional North's trap defense has been lethal to the opposition this season.
Thursday night in the championship game of the Class 4A Marist Regional, however, the Meteors ran into a different type of opponent.
Marist showed the Meteors why the are considered one of the best team's in the state. The RedHawks' half-court backdoor passing was precise enough to win the game on its own, that is, when it was needed.
For the most part, the RedHawks lightning-fast transition game never allowed the Meteors' defense dictate the terms of the contest, as the RedHawks racked up their 30th win of the season and second consecutive regional title with an impressive 80-51 victory at Marist High School.
Marist (30-1), the top seed of the Sandburg Sectional, will face Marian Catholic, who defeated Mother McAuley on Thursday. That game is Monday at 7:30 p.m. in a sectional semifinal contest.
"You can't really make any mistakes against them," said Meteors coach Tim Zasada, who closed out his eight-year career with the program Thursday. "You've got to play perfect, and we were far from perfect tonight."
The RedHawks led by 28 points at halftime, thanks to a 28-point second quarter performance of their fastbreak attack. The lead grew to 42 points by the end of the third quarter, shortly before the home team's starting five were pulled in the opening minutes of the final quarter.
"We were working on T.F. North's pressure all day in practice (Wednesday)," Marist coach Mary Pat Connolly said. "And our running game is sensational. We just get the ball out and go with it."
The RedHawks did their damage almost exclusively with their starting five, each of whom scored in the double digits. Junior guard JeTaun Rouse scored 18 of her game-high 26 points in the first half, along with four steals and four assists. RedHawk teammates Asianna Bey (15 points), Randyll Butler (14), Claire Ryan (13) and Leah Bolton (10) each contributed an equally well-rounded mixture of points, steals, rebounds and assists.
"They are pretty fast," Zasada said. "We were able to get back on defense against Hillcrest and we thought it would be the same tonight, but it just wasn't. I am going to hate to look at the tape to see just how fast they were able to get the ball from one end of the court to the other."
The Meteors (20-8) were led by senior guard Sharee Greenlee, who hit four 3-point shots as part of her team-high 23 points. Schenia Battle fought through early foul trouble to finish with nine points, while point guard Chardae Greenlee added eight points.
Zasada accepted the varsity football coaching job at Reavis last month. He closed out his basketball association with the Meteors in style, as he guided the team to the South Suburban Conference championship.
"Winning conference is something nobody can take away from these girls," Zasada said. "We are pleased with our season, to make it to the championship. T.F. North basketball is in good shape, and hopefully whoever takes over next year will continue the tradition of championship basketball."