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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/16/2013 6:48:13 PM

By Brian Jerzak
John’s Journal Correspondent

Outside of any playoff or state tournament action in the past week, the marquee basketball game of the week was played Friday at Eastview High School in Apple Valley. It matched up two of the top three Class 4A girls teams: top-ranked Bloomington Kennedy and No. 3 Eastview. Not only was the No. 1 ranking at stake, there was also the matter of the South Suburban Conference championship being decided.

The teams had just three losses between them going into the showdown on Eastview’s Senior Night. However, it was an underclassman that made the difference.

“We came into the season with one returning starter,” said Eastview head coach Melissa Guebert. “We have kids that had played, but they weren’t kids that had been go-to kids. They have just taken that on and been good leaders.”

Earlier in the season the somewhat inexperienced Lightning visited the Eagles. Kennedy came away with a solid 57-49 win, handing Eastview its only loss of the season. During the first half Friday it looked like it was going to be another game that would go down to the final minutes.

Points were hard to come by. Eastview held a slim 23-20 lead at halftime. Both teams were taking good care of the ball, but good shots were hard to come by. It seemed like the only real separator in the first half was Eastview’s ability to have a little more success on the boards. It was something Guebert felt they could have done better in the second half.

“We couldn’t keep giving them second and third shots. We had good position, but we were too far under the basket. We really focused on when you are boxing out, look at what position you are in and not giving (Kennedy) second chances.”

Guebert’s daughter, sophomore Madison, led all scorers in the first half and ultimately the game. The point guard hit some shots from the outside to give her nine points at the break. Kennedy came out strong in the second half, but five straight points by senior Tyra Johnson gave the Lightning their biggest lead of the game.

Coach Guebert held back some of her praise for her daughter, wanting to focus more on the team, but did say this much: “She does set the tone because she is the point guard. They really feed off her composure.”

Mom understandably didn’t want to gush over her daughter, but I don’t have any sort of restrictions. The entire Lightning team played really well in the second half, but in the face of constant defensive pressure the younger Guebert made all the right plays. Even when the Eagles would back off the pressure defense, the young point guard was patient and made sure her team’s offense was able to get a good shot more often than not.

“We moved the ball really well,” said the Lightning head coach. “We ran a lot of different things and handled Kennedy’s press really well. They are an incredible team so for us to play this well, I am happy for our seniors. It was a nice win for them.”

The Lightning turned up the heat on defense and was able to build up a double-digit lead with transition baskets and early offense off the transition game. Kennedy turned up the defensive intensity, but Eastview -- especially point guard Guebert -- were able to take advantage of the Eagles’ overaggressiveness to open up a big lead.

“I was just so happy with our intensity from the start to the finish and our composure,” said the second-year coach. “That was the difference between this game and the last time we played them.”

According to Guebert, composure against teams like Kennedy and the other top teams in the state will be one of the keys for Eastview’s success as the playoffs approach.
Composure is something she has learned and has been able to use to her advantage, in part because of the foundation that was laid by former head coach and current assistant coach Paul Goetz.

“I am really blessed to have the staff I have,” said Guebert. “They give me the composure and confidence that I need.”

Consistent foul shooting, discipline on both offense and defense by the home team made sure Kennedy would not be able to get back into the game. The 66-46 victory by Eastview all but assured that the South Suburban Conference season will conclude with a tie at the top. If these two teams match up again it will be at state. If both teams can get there, it would be a fitting way to break the regular-season tie.


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