JOLIET – On the biggest stage, the biggest stars come to play and that is what Lisa Thompson and Grace Walsh did for Joliet West on Saturday afternoon as Joliet West won the Southwest Prairie Conference tournament 68-53 over Plainfield North.
Thompson, the talented sophomore, scored 13 first quarter points and basically put the game away for the Tigers early with a 24-11 lead going to the second frame. Thompson sat the final four minutes of the second quarter after picking up her third foul. She scored eight second half points to give her 21 on the day.
“I had a little training session before the game today, just making sure everything was right and I felt great in that first quarter,” Thompson said. “I set myself up for shots, my teammates got me the ball and the shots fell.”
“Our entire team made the most of the opportunities we had this season and we made the most of it. There were a lot of special moments that we will all remember from this season.”
After a sluggish second quarter by both teams, West (14-1) took a 34-20 lead into the locker room, but that quickly changed to begin the second half, as North cut the lead to 37-28 with 5:01 left in the quarter.
That quickly changed as West accepted the challenge and outscored North 13-6, as Thompson, Grace Walsh and Caiside Snapp all contributed to the run and led 50-34 entering the final quarter.
North finally got their 3′s to start falling as Lexie Hernandez (14 points) hit three bombs in just over two minutes and with four minutes left in the game, North trailed 56-45. But that is when Walsh took over and after being held scoreless in the first half put in 17 second half points to seal the tournament title.
“I knew things weren’t going well for me in the first half and you just have to reach deep inside yourself and keep competing,” Walsh, a junior, said. “I like to take my defense to offense and I knew to keep working on the defensive end and it would come.”
“Plainfield North is a very good team and we don’t match up well with them and we are a little fortunate that they couldn’t hit many 3′s, especially in the first half,” West coach John Placher said.
“Lisa [Thompson] starting the game like she did, Grace [taking over in the second half and Destiny [McNair] are in a different league and they came to play today. But it’s not only them, everyone did a tremendous job today and all season long.”
One of the big contributors was Maliyah Walker, one of only two seniors on the West roster. She scored seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“This means a lot and I couldn’t ask for anything better, it’s special to go out this way,” Walker said. “This is the second conference title in a row and hopefully they keep it going next year, this was the best.”
“Maliyah has been with us for three years and I call her our Dennis Rodman because she does all the dirty work on the floor for us,” Placher said. She is so fun to be around and has come so far in the three years.”
“We only lost four total games at all levels in our program this year and this season provided us a look at what we need to work on over the off season. We need to get physically stronger and with the talent we have I’m already excited for next season.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle