DOWNERS GROVE – Lily Courier delivered.
In a high-profile matchup of future Division I players, the Lyons Township junior held her own against Downers Grove South senior Holly Lueken on Jan. 12.
Lueken, a Colgate recruit, scored a game-high 28 points to go with four rebounds, four assists and four blocks, but the visiting Lions rallied from a seven-point deficit to pull out a 62-57 overtime victory.
The win was due in large part to the play of Courier, who tallied a career-high 25 points and 13 rebounds. She also scored her team’s only basket of overtime, during which Downers South was held scoreless until Meghan Stapleton sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“I’ve known Holly from past experiences, so I’m pretty good friends with her,” said the uncommitted Courier, who like Lueken wears No. 33. “It was fun to compete. I’m glad she had a good game, but glad we were able to even out with the points.”
While both players got help from their teammates, it was Lueken and Courier who took turns trading baskets against one another.
Lueken scored the game-tying basket midway through the fourth quarter, only to see Courier tally five straight points to give the Lions (9-11) a 51-46 lead. Lueken answered with five straight points of her own, including two free throws to put Downers South (12-7) up 52-51.
After sophomore Lindsey Hahn made both ends of a 1-and-1 with 46.4 seconds left, Lueken scored on a spectacular scoop shot as she hit the floor with 31 seconds remaining, giving the Mustangs a 54-53 edge.
Courier tied the game by splitting a pair of free throws with 21.1 seconds to go, and both teams had chances to win in regulation. Downers South turned the ball over with 5.9 ticks left, and Hahn missed a contested layup at the buzzer.
“Today, [Courier] showed up and she was ready and she knew the game plan,” Lyons coach Meghan Hutchens said. “We knew that their 33 was going to be challenging, but then it was like the battle of the 33s.
“Both of them are beasts inside, both rebound very well, and both attack the basket well. So I think Lily did a phenomenal job outside the paint with her and also inside the paint when we doubled her. [Courier] never came out.”
Lueken came out only briefly after suffering a hip pointer near the end of the third quarter, during which senior point guard Maggie Greco scored 12 of her 17 points to give the Mustangs a 41-34 lead.
But Greco, who also had nine rebounds, fouled out early in overtime when Jessie Nutter took a charge and that changed the complexion of the game.
Kelly Carlson, who had eight points and nine rebounds, split two free throws to put Lyons ahead for good and then fed Courier for a basket with 2:27 left.
With Greco gone, the Lions double-teamed Lueken, who made 10 of 22 shots but missed all five of her attempts in overtime, including four 3-point attempts.
“I was told to face guard her, to try to not let her catch it,” Courier said. “Then [Greco] fouled out. We were supposed to do that to her, too.”
Perhaps it is time for opponents to face guard Courier, who like Lueken can play all over the court.
“I usually go wherever I’m needed,” Courier said. “If they take away my post, I’ll go outside.”
The Lions, who also beat the Mustangs in overtime in last year’s playoffs, had a huge edge on the boards and a more balanced offense. Lyons outrebounded Downers South 48-20, including 21-8 on the offensive glass, where Courier grabbed eight boards.
Hahn finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. Ellie Kosanovich added 12 points and Nutter had 10 rebounds.
Outside of the battered Lueken, who took an ice bath after the game, and Greco, the Mustangs had no other player with more than five points.
“It stings,” Downers South assistant coach Brittany Armato said. “[The Mustangs] worked hard out there.
“We’ve just got to get better at holding a lead and staying together and knowing what got us that lead.”
The Sentinels beat Manteno 45-30 on Jan. 14.
Sarah Cernugel scored 22 points for the Red Devils in a 75-42 loss to York.