By Randy Whalen
Being a freshman, Josie Canellis is new to the Sandburg-Stagg District 230 rivalry. But she’s learning all about it.
Canellis scored a game-high 16-points, including nine in the fourth quarter, as Sandburg opened the second half of the season by strolling into Stagg and coming away with a 50-42 victory in a SouthWest Suburban crossover on Jan. 9.
The two schools just 5 miles apart are not in the same division of the SWSC this season, so the game was the only scheduled meeting between the two teams.
“I do know about the rivalry, so it was huge,” Canellis said. “We did such a nice job playing together as a team. We knew we all had to step up and do our job. Plus, it’s pretty big to come off a long layoff and get a win. It meant so much to do that and get a win.”
The Eagles (13-3) are in the midst of their best season in five years. but they hadn’t played since a 60-50 loss to Joliet West on Dec. 28 in the title game of their own holiday tournament.
Stagg (7-10) lost its eighth game by 10 points or less. Four of those have been by four points or less.
“We are a work in progress, young and learning our roles,” Stagg coach Bill Turner said. “Sandburg played really well on both ends of the court and is well-coached.”
Playing without the post presence of senior twins Maggie and Steffi Manthe, the Eagles got balanced scoring as five players finished with at least six points.
Erin O’Connor (nine points, eight rebounds), fellow sophomore guards Lauren Coghlan (eight points), who was making her first varsity start, Charlotte Trunk (six points, eight rebounds) and senior guard Grace Badon (six points) all contributed for the Eagles.
Sophomore guard Laila Barakat (13 points), junior guard Kelsey Dwyer (10 points, 10 rebounds), and senior guard Sarah Mueller (five points) led the Chargers.
Much of the game was a defensive battle as Sandburg led 32-24 after three quarters. Both teams scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, but the margin never got closer than eight points. That was thanks in part to Canellis, who scored nine of points during a two-minute span. Her three-pointer with 2:37 to play capped the spurt and gave the Eagles a 48-34 lead.
Stagg scored 13 points in the final 3:50 of the game but it was too little, too late.
The Chargers led 14-13 after one quarter, but only scored four points in the second and trailed 23-18 at halftime.
“This team plays hard and plays together,” Sandburg coach Nick Fotopoulos said. “We moved the ball well and played team ball. Our guards didn’t rebound well in the first half, but we did down the stretch.
After losing the holiday tournament title game to Joliet West, Sandburg took a few days away from basketball to regroup.
“I thought that helped,” he added.
The Eagles followed the win by losing to Argo, 58-30, in a matinee on Jan. 11 in Summit. Argo is 16-6.
That same day, the Chargers (7-11) traveled to Country Club Hills and lost, 54-48, to host Hillcrest (16-6).
Stagg opened last week with a 54-47 win over visiting St. Laurence (9-11) on Jan. 6. Barakat led all scorers with 18 points, while sophomore forward Gail Korbitz played well inside and finished with 15 points.