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Marquita Thorne, Kia Brooks take North Lawndale over Hillcrest

North Lawndale found itself leading Hillcrest by the narrowest of margins after eight minutes Saturday at the Annual Crete-Monee Crosstown Shootout.Then the Phoenix turned up the heat.Five-foot-7 sophomore Marquita Thorne scored 19 points, 5-9 sophomore Kia Brooks added 17 points and 12 rebounds and No. 17 North Lawndale used a 33-4 run over a 7:42 span of the second and third quarters to race past Hillcrest 72-35.

“It was still a game (10-9) at the end of the first quarter and I just thought that if our girls could get out and run,” North Lawndale coach Corey Morgan said. “That’s how we play. We like a lot of ball pressure and to play fast.

“We don’t really have a true post player. We have one kid 6-2, but she’s still raw and very young. Unpolished. So we just try to create a lot of turnovers, create tempo and try to create a lot of transition baskets to get away from people.”

Thorne made back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second quarter as North Lawndale (5-1) eased to a 25-14 lead. Then Brooks’ work on the defensive boards led to several transition baskets that extended the lead to 33-18 at the half.

“Coach [Morgan] told me I’m one of the best rebounders on the team, so he pushes me to be a better rebounder,” Brooks said. “He also told me I don’t play defense enough, so he pushed me the most. I got better. I used to not play defense at all. He tells us defense wins the game.”

North Lawndale put the game out of reach with a 19-0 run to open the second half. A pair of 3-pointers by Brooks and a conventional three-point play by Thorne gave the Phoenix a 52-18 lead before Hillcrest’s Tanzania Sherrill ended the run with a pair of free throws at the 3:25 mark.

“Marquita and Kia are tough kids,” Morgan said. “Marquita’s really been leading us this year. She put in a tremendous amount of work over the summer. She played on the sophomore team last year and was worried if she was going to get varsity minutes. To come out and be starting varsity, she’s excited.”

Jamaria Williams and Alexis Holmes both added seven points for North Lawndale, which played without star guard Nadia Miller (injury).

Hillcrest (2-4) got eight points from Sherrill, seven points from Joshulyn Shepard and six points from Aliah Acker.“It got away from us fast, but our girls have to realize that when you face adversity you either rise or you fall, and too often this season we’ve been allowing our mistakes to just avalanche and snowball,” Hillcrest coach Rex Martin said. “It’s very frustrating.“But we’re going to keep working with them. We’ve got talented players. They just need to get their heads together.”