With her team lacking depth in the wake of Megan Conlin’s season-ending knee injury in December, Rosary girls basketball coach Jessie Wilcox has been searching for some depth.
While scrimmaging against the sophomore team Wednesday, freshman Danielle Goering stood out and Wilcox decided to give her a chance on the varsity squad in Thursday’s Suburban Christian Blue showdown with crosstown rival Aurora Central Catholic.
Goering more than took advantage of her opportunity late in the game.
The Royals were down 38-37 when Goering hit four free throws and assisted on a Taylor Drozdowski layup in a 6-0 run that took nearly four minutes off the clock. That helped Rosary pull out a 47-40 win.
“She hasn’t even practiced with us,” Wilcox said. “I didn’t know what to expect. We were in foul trouble. Some girls are game players, some are not. That’s a game player.”
Rosary (7-9, 2-2) jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first quarter, but ACC (8-7, 2-2) was able to methodically crawl back into the game and eventually take the lead. A three-point play from Alex Horton and a three-pointer from Gabi Alfaro in the third quarter gave ACC a 28-24 lead.
The Chargers’ last lead was 38-37, which came on a Horton free throw with 4:26 left. From there, Rosary clamped down defensively and did just enough on the offensive end behind Goering to come back and take the win.
“It was tied 38-38 and we said it’s going to be won at the defensive end,” Wilcox said. “Attack because we’re in the bonus and knock down your free throws. And that’s exactly what they did. Defense wins games, and that just proved it to them right there.”
Goering was unwittingly in the middle of it all. After playing only a couple of minutes all night, she was involved in all of the key plays down the stretch.
“At first it was really scary, but when I went onto the floor, it got a lot easier and it just felt really good,” Goering said. “I was like, ‘Danielle, this is your first varsity game, you’ve got to score.’ That’s what I did.”
Quincy Kellett led all scorers for Rosary with 17 points. Drozdowski added 13 and Rachel Choice had 11. Choice, Kellett and Emily Bakala all played every second of the game for Rosary.
“We ask a lot out of those three,” Wilcox said. “They don’t want to come out. They don’t want to lose. That’s the kind of leadership that we need.”
Horton paced the Chargers with 10 points off the bench. Free throws were the undoing for the Chargers, who shot 4-for-17 from the line.
“The talent is there,” ACC coach Mark Fitzgerald said. “The ability is there. Sometimes the execution is lacking. You can’t shoot 4-of-17 free throws and win a game, you just can’t. Unfortunately that’s happened to us a few times this year. If I have to practice three hours of free throws, I’ll do it. Last game we were 13-of-16, so go figure.”