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Blue Devils Rebound for Fifth Place Win

by Dennis Bowling

Peotone coach Steve Strough knows that junior Mae Graffeo can be used many different ways on the hardwood. Graffeo was named to the prestigious all-tournament team.

Graffeo who was named to the prestigious all-tournament team registered a team-high 11 points, which included four crucial points in the fourth quarter, and grabbed eight rebounds. Peotone beat Clifton Central 40-30 in the fifth-place game of the 2018 Ladycat Fall Classic on November 20.

“Mae had a nice tournament,” said Strough. “We just need her to score. We also need to run our plays through her. She has that mindset. We came out with our third win. We now need to identify the sort of things that we have to get better at.”

“Sam (Gwiazda) is an energy player for us,” he said. “She was able to get a lot of loose balls. Yatzari (Jauregui) was executing plays for us.”

Backing up Graffeo was junior forward Sam Gwiazda, who finished with 10 points and had six boards. Peotone’s junior guard Courtney Burks provided 10 points, five assists, and four steals.

“We were able to come out and finished this tournament with a win,” Graffeo said. “We gave every team in this tournament a run for their money. It was a great team effort. When Courtney would bring the ball up the court, she wanted us to stay calm. We also did a good job in the post area.”

In the first quarter, Central had a 7-6 lead, but Peotone quickly gained control with an 8-0 run. Gwiazda’s rebound basket started it. Graffeo had a three-point play and then added a rebound. Mandy Massat capped the rally as she converted a rebound into two points for a 15-7 at the end of the stanza.

Near the conclusion of the second quarter, Peotone had a 19-15 lead. From the top of the key, Burks drained a trey for a 22-15 advantage. A Burks jumper made it 24-15 at halftime.

To start the third quarter, Gwiazda added back-to-back rebound baskets for a 28-15 lead. A Burks trey from the top of the key pushed the Blue Devils margin to 31-15 at the close of the stanza.

At the midway mark of the fourth quarter, Peotone had a 33-26 lead. A McKenna Evans (5 points, 4 rebounds) hit a three-pointer to expand the lead to 36-26.

Peotone will now enter I-8 conference play, hosting Westmont on November 29 at 7 p.m.

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