In the next few weeks, Westminster Christian will take a step up in the level of competition it plays while a record-breaking year will see one more milestone as McKaila Hays becomes the third Warrior to go over 1,000 points.
Before that stretch, though, the Warriors wanted to use Monday’s finale in the Elgin Classic to experiment and fine-tune while beating back a strong second-half challenge from rival Harvest Christian in a 60-41 victory.
“We wanted to run today. We wanted to get out on the floor and we did that,” Westminster Christian coach Ken Flickinger said. “We put our kids in unfamiliar roles to see how they’d respond. So we had different kids playing point guard and different ones playing post. All in all, I was pretty happy.
“They all get in their comfort zones. This was a good opportunity for us to push those comfort zones a bit.”
Westminster (18-2), which had clinched a second straight Elgin Classic tourney title Friday, got 15 points from Maddie Versluys and 13 from McKaila Hays to finish the round-robin event unbeaten at 4-0 for the second straight year.
Versluys had nine first-quarter points and Hays seven in helping build a 23-7 lead as the Warriors hit 9-of-12 shots in the first eight minutes.
Hays has 963 career points and could break 1,000 in next week’s Northeastern Athletic Conference tourney or during the stretch of nonconference games against Schaumburg, Hampshire, St. Francis and Wheaton Academy that Westminster has slated to toughen up for postseason in Class 2A for the first time.
“I think we play good against hard teams, and it’s more fun to play those,” Versluys said. “I think they’ll be hard games but they’ll be fun.”
Harvest Christian (9-8) coach Kelly Friestad came away positive about her team’s effort as they closed a 26-point deficit to 12 with 1:45 to go. Harvest Christian got 17 points from Kylee Knox, eight points from Morgan Lockwood and five rebounds and five points by Rachel Oostdyk.
“The first half we dug ourselves a hole. We had to take a mental check there,” Friestad said. “We got down, got frustrated, but the second half was a different story.
“We were very proud of the way the girls fought back and kept their heads up the second half.”
Earlier Monday, Larkin (7-13) used its reserves in starting roles and won 73-12 over Elgin Academy (3-10) in the Classic. Alyssa McGhee had 15 points, including 11 in the first quarter to trigger the rout.
“That’s something that we’ve been working on with Alyssa is that three-point shot so we can spread out zone defenses and I think it will open it up for Marlee (Kyles) and Victoria (Patterson) to score inside,” coach Ruben Flores said.
Patterson had a team-high 16 points Monday and Kyles added 12.