VILLA GROVE | With two minutes remaining and Marian Catholic nursing a short lead against Bolingbrook, Spartans forward Megan Walsh picked up her fourth foul in the 23rd annual McDonald's Shootout.
There was no way she was coming out of the lineup, not with her 6-foot-1 height and her senior savvy.
"I was just trying not to overcommit," Walsh said of her defense from that point on.
Playing smart worked. Her basket with 1:31 to play, set up by Melanie Ransom's feed, was Marian's only field goal in the final seven minutes, and instrumental in the Spartans' 58-50 victory over the perennial powerhouse in penultimate game on Monday of the three-day extravaganza at Williwbrook High School.
"First time Marian Catholic's ever beaten Bolingbrook," coach Annie Byrne said, the tone of her voice like a banner-raising. "It's so important for the kids to experience something like this."
The victory, Marian's 20th of the season against a single defeat in an arduous schedule, was hard won. The most critical stretch was the final five minutes of the third quarter, when Bolingbrook's Amarah Coleman was sitting with four fouls.
The Spartans, who trailed 8-1 in the early going, went to town with a 12-0 run that was capped by a three-pointer from Ransom late in the third and her rebound basket early in the fourth.
That pushed Marian's lead to 43-32. Coleman reentered the game, and promptly took over, scoring on a drive through the lane, a 16-foot jumper, another jumper, and a fast-break layup. Seconds later, Aysia Bugg's three-pointer cut Marian's lead to two points with 4:17 remaining.
Then Marian's stalwarts answered. Sophomore guard Teniya Page connected on two of her free-throw attempts on a 6-of-6 evening. Ashton Millender did the same. And after the Raiders closed to three points, there was Walsh, taking Ransom's pass and finding the basket for the last of her 11 points.
"This means a lot to us, especially as the first Marian team to beat Bolingbrook," Walsh said.
Millender led Marian with 16 points, Ransom adding 10, but Page provided the mental glue, perfect from the line and passing out seven of Marian's 10 assists on 16 baskets.
"Teniya never seems nervous," Walsh said. "She's always composed. That helps me a lot."
Bolingbrook (13-5) was led by Coleman's 18 points. Bugg added 16 for the Raiders.
Bloom Township 58, Providence Catholic 40: The Blazing Trojans, back from a two-day tournament in St. Louis and losses to powerhouses Incarnate Word and St. Joseph, had enough to overturn the bus lag and score a victory over the Celtics in their third game in as many days.
"We're mentally and physically tired," center Bria Gaines said.
But Gaines wasn't so tired that she couldn't score 24 points and led the Trojans (16-6) to a resounding victory with a second-half surge. They trailed 23-22 at halftime, but outscored Providence 20-13 in the third quarter.
"We came back and played better," Gaines said. "Defense was the key; defense and offensive rebounds."
Katherine Strong scored 22 points and Dainelle King added 11 for Bloom.