Scoring the first 13 points to open the game should have put Marist on cruise control, but it wasn’t that easy against a new-look Oak Park-River Forest team.
Marist’s two future Division I players combined to score 46 points, but OPRF didn’t back away so easily while the RedHawks, ranked No. 5 in the preseason by SeasonPass, opened its own Thanksgiving tournament Monday with a 62-54 victory over OPRF. Illinois-bound Leah Bolton (12 rebounds) scored 25 points and Marquette-bound JeTan Rouse added 21 points to lead Marist (2-0), which actually trailed 24-23 with 2:50 to go in the second quarter after Hailey Hoye (12 points) scored for the Huskies (0-2) on a steal and left-handed layup. The lead didn’t last. Bolton put Marist back ahead with a rebound and layup, but OPRF showed that it could stay with one of the Chicago area’s elite with a new up-tempo attack. Rouse scored 11 of Marist’s 13 points during its game-opening run, but had only two points in the second quarter on 1-of-6 shooting. “Really, our defense triggered our offense,” Rouse said about the start. “We started playing together as a team with layups and rebounds.” Marist had a much tougher time after beating Resurrection 64-39 in its opener Nov. 14. The Huskies scored the first basket in the second half to come within 31-28, but the RedHawks responded with an 11-0 run. Bolton scored four of Marist’s five baskets in the fourth quarter. Rouse said the team is still trying to adjust without senior guard Claire Ryan (torn ACL), who is expected to return in January. “We felt better, more relaxed and more comfortable,” Rouse said. “We made the adjustments. We know the season will not be easy for us.” Both of OPRF’s first two losses of the season have been to teams ranked in the preseason top 5. No. 3Trinity beat the Huskies 75-50 Nov. 13 in the season opener for both teams. Senior guard Caroline Kelty led OPRF with 25 points on 7-of-19 shooting, including four 3-pointers. After the disastrous start, Kelty hit an off-balanced, right-handed 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter to pull OPRF to within 17-14. New OPRF coach J.P. Coughlin coached his second game since taking over for former coach Bob Biggins, who retired. The longtime assistant to Biggins is using his three-guard offense to push the ball up the court much like Oak Park neighbor Fenwick, which attempts to take 80 shots per game. “We don’t have their depth,” Coughlin said. “We are the light beer version of that. The kids seem to like it and the fans like it.” The Huskies took 59 shots against Marist, but the difference was at the free-throw line. Marist shot 19 of 26 and OPRF was 9 of 16 at the line. “This is awesome,” Kelty said. “I love going fast. I hate slow playing. We knew coming in that (Coughlin) would push us on offense. We do what we do best and then get back on D.” Marist plays in the tournament’s second round at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday against T.F. North. OPRF plays St. Ignatius at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.