Tony Baranek’s girls basketball notebook

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Over the first half of the season, Shepard coach Jenna McCormick had been stressing improvement.

Now, after a confidence-boosting week of success, the Astros have some bigger goals for the second half.

Myrissha Mitchell, back in the lineup after missing a month with an injury, was a standout Wednesday with 17 points as Shepard defeated Mount Assisi 48-45 to improve to 3-13.

The next night, Courtney Dalton recorded her second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in a 45-37 win over Bremen.

“Wednesday’s win was the monkey off our back because we lost several games by five points or less,” McCormick said. “To pull out some close wins, I am proud to say we are heading in the right direction.

“Coming off the two wins, the [girls] are thrilled and definitely walking with more of a pep in their step and confidence moving into this week.”

The back-to-back wins probably brought back some familiar feelings for McCormick, who was Daily Southtown Player of the Year at Lincoln-Way East in 2002-03 and later a standout at DePaul. In her first season as coach at Shepard in 2012-13, the Astros were 13-16.

Her second campaign has brought growing pains with the loss of six graduated seniors, and the difficult task of rebuilding without an injured key player (Mitchell).

“I don’t think our record reflects our team accurately,” McCormick said. “In addition to Myrissha being out, it took some time for our younger kids to adjust. Now that they understand their roles and have had some success, I look forward to the remainder of the season to prove we are a contending team in the [South Suburban Red] conference.”

Bruised, but battling

Beecher isn’t blessed with a lot of height, but the Bobcats are tough as sophomore Sam Pilbeam proved in a 44-41 victory Thursday over River Valley opponent Tri-Point.

Pilbeam gave everyone a scare during the second quarter when on a drive to the basket she tripped and fell on her face.

“She’s the type of player who is always diving after the ball and just naturally plays physical,” Beecher coach Adam Keen said. “When I saw her fall and not get up, I was worried.

“When I got to her she lifted her head, and a large bruise below and above her right eye already had formed. I remember hearing the girls around me seeing it right away and gasping.”

Within three minutes, Keen said, Pilbeam was on the bench telling him she was ready to go back in. She started the second half and scored nine of her 11 points in the fourth quarter as Beecher pulled out the win to improve to 11-5 overall, 5-0 in conference.

“I think there were some jokes about how she looked fierce,” Keen said. “The next day was also our school’s homecoming, so she had to go to the dance with half of her face pretty bruised.”

Player of the Week

Courtney Dalton, of Shepard, is the SouthtownStar Girls Basketball Player of the Week.

Dalton, a senior forward, had double-doubles in two Shepard victories. In a 48-45 win over Mount Assisi, she totaled 11 points and 12 rebounds, and in a 45-37 win over Bremen she had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

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