Defensive Allen Eliminates Lady Scots

By Randy Jennings / Contributor

CARROLLTON — The 2024 portion of the Highland Park girls basketball season was the best that new head coach Todd Monsey could have expected — 13 straight wins going into Thursday’s area-round playoff against Allen.

But with so much momentum on its side, Allen found a way to deflate Highland Park’s bubble, 52-33. Allen’s clinging in-your-face defense challenged practically every pass or shot and forced 17 Lady Scots turnovers.

“I give credit to Allen’s defensive effort,” said Monsey. “They took us out of our game. But I told the girls afterward this game did not define us. It just wasn’t our night.”

HP (26-9), champion of District 7-6A and a playoff team for the 13th consecutive season, extended its streak of advancing to at least the second round for the sixth consecutive season.

Allen (27-9), the third seed from District 5-6A in the playoffs for the ninth season in a row, advances to the regional quarterfinal round for the first time since its 2019 run to the state tournament.

“To hold Highland Park to 33 points says a lot about our team,” said Allen coach Stephanie Shaw. “This is a special group.”

Allen began the first two quarters with 7-0 runs. In the opening period, Allen had seven points before HP had even attempted a shot. Its first two possessions resulted in turnovers. but the Lady Scots fought back with a 7-0 run of their own and trailed 14-11 after eight minutes.

However, there was not a similar response in second quarter and the deficit grew to 27-15 at intermission.

Baskets by Tyler Corwin and Ali Jackson early in the third period closed the Allen advantage to 10, but the Lady Scots could draw no closer.

Corwin, a 5-6 junior guard, led HP with nine points. Three-point specialist Audrey Walker was tightly defended and rarely got an open look but did manage to make one 3-pointer on the way to seven points.

Defensively, Walker and Lila Collins did a good job holding Allen sophomore guard Simone Richmond to one basket in the final three quarters. But Audrey Cline picked up the slack for the Lady Eagles with 14 points.

Shaw explained that Cline usually does the little things that go unnoticed in the scorebook. Cline, a 5-7 senior forward, called it the best game she has ever played. It was Cline and teammate Skye Pepp turning defensive steals into breakaway baskets to rebuild the lead in the second quarter. The 19-point margin at the finish equaled Allen’s largest lead of the evening.

Of the 12 players in uniform, HP will lose only three to graduation: Jackson, Walker and Grace Michel. The Lady Scots count among their returners a pair of sophomore inside players, 5-10 post Cate Young and 6-2 forward Kate Danner.

And there will be the return to Class 5A. In its last two seasons at the 5A level, HP advanced to the third playoff round.

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