Although she is listed as a guard, Jenny Vliet has to do a lot of the dirty work around the basket for Rolling Meadows.
Friday against Trinity in a semifinal of the Montini Christmas Tournament, Vliet’s uniform was figuratively caked in mud.
The 6-foot-2 senior scored 19 points and collected 13 rebounds to lead No. 4 Rolling Meadows to a 65-52 victory over No. 3 Trinity and its second consecutive tournament championship game appearance.
The Mustangs (14-1) apparently learned their lesson after being badly outrebounded by Young in their only loss earlier this month. Friday, they dominated the backboards led by Vliet, Ashley Montanez (14 points, six rebounds) and Alexis Glasgow (six points, six rebounds).
“We’ve been doing a lot of physical stuff in practice to get ready for teams,” Vliet said. “We thought that we could beat them (the Blazers) on the offensive boards and get the defensive boards, definitely post up and look for a lot of inside play tonight.”
Rolling Meadows led 20-11 after eight minutes, but Trinity (13-1) used a 9-4 run to get within 24-20 before the Mustangs closed the half with 11 unanswered points. Trinity opened the second half on a 20-6 run to get within 41-40, but Rolling Meadows answered with a 22-7 run of its own.
“We have eight seniors,” Rolling Meadows coach Ran Kirkorsky said. “I am going to trust them. They have been in every situation you can imagine these last few years, and when you’re playing good teams there are going to be runs.
“I told them, when they make a play, respond to it,” he added. “I can’t call a timeout every time they make a run. Our kids responded to a good team. Trinity is well-coached. They know how to find mismatches. I thought our kids responded and played great defense in the second half.”
Jackie Kemph led Rolling Meadows with 21 points. Lauren Prochaska had 16 points and Patricia Stritzel added 14 points for Trinity.
“Of course we’re disappointed with the score, but Rolling Meadows is a really good team and this is only going to help us,” Trinity coach Ed Stritzel. “I thought the boards hurt us in the first half. But I told the kids at halftime, we’re not looking for a moral victory. We want to win this one, and I thought they responded.
“We cut it to 41-40 and I told my staff, if it gets to 44-40, I’m going to call a timeout,” he added. “What did the stupid coach do? He let it get to 46-40. So I’ll take the blame on this one. If we clear up the rebounds, I think we can play with anyone.”
Rolling Meadows will be looking for redemption after losing to the hosts in last year’s championship game.
“It’s really exciting for us,” Vliet said. “We know we were there last year. We felt like we fell apart at that time. Right now I’m guessing we’re going to be at our peak and play our best play tomorrow. That’s what I’m hoping for.”