CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Perfection is always sought after, rarely achieved.
Especially in the first game of a basketball season.
How good, then, was Marian Catholic's girls team in beating Lincoln-Way East 70-49 in Tuesday's season opener for both teams?
"Certain things went well," sophomore guard Teniya Page said. "When we went down, we picked it up."
"At the beginning, it was a little tough," junior guard Ashton Millender said.
As in a 7-7 tie before three minutes had been played.
Then Times No. 1 Marian went on a 12-0 run only to see the Griffins close the gap to 21-18.
Then the Spartans really picked it up. Three straight free throws by Page, who was fouled beyond the arc, expanded the lead to six points. Moments later, a pair of conventional three-point plays, first by Page and then by Millender, expanded the lead to 34-22.
A Millender basket off a turnover advanced the lead to 14 points, and the Spartans were rolling.
But they weren't perfect. Especially not in the eyes of coach Annie Byrne, whose opinion will count.
"We can perform at a much higher level, especially on the defensive end," Byrne said. "We'll keep working on it until we get it right."
She didn't pick on specifics. She just didn't like the overall flavor of the contest.
"We know the level we can perform at," Byrne said.
Page and Millender paced the Spartans with 19 points each, while Briana Narcissi came off the bench to add nine points on a trio of final-quarter 3-pointers.
Playing catchup, the Griffins went to the three-point shot, but made only a half-dozen, three of which came from the deadeye shooting of guard Kara Krolicki, who was perfect from long range and led the Griffins with 12 points. Dana O'Grady added 11.
Unofficially, Marian was outrebounded 25-23, not that the Griffins were able to take advantage. Things went so far in Marian's favor in the final quarter that one basket it was credited for was put in by a Lincoln-Way East player, basketball's version of soccer's own goal.
Neither Page nor Millander thought opening-game jitters had anything to do with the quality of play.
"We're not that new to each other," Millender said. "We played together last year and all summer. But we should grow."
That's what Byrne expects.
"I was hoping we'd get over the hump (tonight)," Byrne said. "We'll get there."