Blue Devils Rout Illiana
by Dennis Bowling
Peotone junior Courtney Burks was just a bit concerned about the Blue Devils season opener with Illiana Christian, but Burks and her teammates were very happy after beating the Vikings on November 13.
Burks, a 5-foot-4 guard, was in a really great rhythm. She finished with a team-high 16 points, including four treys, and had four assists and four steals. Peotone routed Illiana Christian 42-23 in the opening round of the Beecher Ladycat Fall Classic.
“This was a very good game,” said Burks. “We were working the ball around really fast. Everyone on the team was able to get their points. We are just a very positive team and have a very strong bond. That does help us to play our best.
“Yatzari (Jauregui) worked very hard,” Burks continued. “Delaney (Kelly) came out strong and had some great shots. Samantha (Gwiazda) picked off some passes, then sprinted up the floor to make her baskets.”
Blue Devil senior Jauregui finished with five points and five steals. Forward Kelly had six points, which included a pair of treys. Gwiazda had eight points and five steals. Guard McKenna Evans had four points, while Mae Graffeo finished with three points and four rebounds for Peotone.
Peotone Coach Steve Strough was very pleased with the play of the Blue Devils.
“We passed the ball very well,” he said. “We were transitioning quickly and were able to finish. Great things were happening. Courtney (Burks) can shoot the ball, create her shot, and has a quick release. We expect that type of effort from her.”
“Yatzari was providing defensive pressure,” he said. “She was getting some steals and attacking the basket. Delaney has been working on her treys. She was really on. Sam plays the game with a great deal of intensity.”
In the first quarter, the Vikings had their only lead of the game at 5-4. At that point, the Peotone offense really came together. An Evans layup basket made it 6-5. A Burks turnaround jump shot basket pushed the Blue Devil margin to 8-5. A Jauregui trey made it 11-5. Burks’ trey right before the end of the stanza pushed the advantage to a comfortable 14-5.
The Blue Devils’ offense continued to click in the second quarter. Kelly was impressive as she added back-to-back treys for a 20-8 lead. Gwiazda and Evans delivered baskets for a 24-9 advantage. Graffeo made a free throw for 25-9 halftime lead.
Peotone did come out really strong in the third quarter. Gwiazda, on a no look pass from Burks, made a bucket for a 27-11 advantage. Gwiazda made consecutive baskets, which extended the Blue Devils’ lead to 31-11. Graffeo’s bucket made it 33-11. A Burks trey pushed the lead to 36-13. Mandy Massat’s free throw ended the stanza with a 37-15 Peotone lead, and they never looked back.
“We were all nervous, but that disappeared during our warmups,” said Jauregui. “We were ready to play, and it was a great first half for us. Courtney (Burks) had an awesome game. Sam (Gwiazda) always goes to the basket strong. Overall, we did very well.”