Photo by Jeff Vorva
Marist’s Ally Corcoran, left, collides with Mother McAuley’s Hannah Swiatek during Monday night’s neighborhood battle as the RedHawks beat the Mighty Macs, 56-39.
The way Marist’s Julia Ruzevich sees it, the rivalry game against Mother McAuley has the entire South Side buzzing.
“This is the date I always look forward to,” she said. “There is always a full house and everyone from the South Side comes down to watch this game. It’s an exciting atmosphere.’’
The Quincy-bound senior scored 20 points in her final regular-season game against the Mighty Macs in a 56-39 victory Monday night in front of an estimated crowd of 1,200 in a non-conference neighborhood battle at McAuley.
The RedHawks (17-3 with a five-game winning streak) outscored the Macs 29-16 in the second and third quarters to keep a comfortable lead in the fourth. Claire Austin added 12 points for the winners. Junior Tara O’Malley had 12 for McAuley.
Marist opened the season with a 12 straight victories before suffering a couple of setbacks down south at the inaugural Queen of the Commonwealth Tournament at Bullitt East High School in Washington, Kentucky.
After dropping a 58-57 setback to Male High School (the firth-ranked team in the state) on a buzzer-beater on Dec. 21, the RedHawks lost another close shave to Campbell County the next day, 63-59.
They came back home hoping to make some noise in the powerful Montini Tournament but was bounced in the first round by Proviso East, 63-58. Marist had to make that noise in the consolation round and thwarted its current streak by winning three games en route to the consolation title and opened the 2017 portion of the schedule with a 65-42 triumph over New Trier in the Fremd Shootout before Monday night’s game with the Mighty Macs.
“After that Proviso game, we had a meeting,” Ruzivich said. “We said ‘this is it – no more losses.’ We came out and won the next game and we’ve been winning ever since.
The schedule doesn’t get much easier for Marist as it faces Stevenson at the Subway Shootout at Willowbrook High School on Saturday and looming on Jan. 20 is a road game at Benet Academy, which has won back-to-back Class 4A state titles the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, McAuley (12-6) is in an interesting phase of its development. The team is filled with underclassmen with a high ceiling for the next couple of years. There are just three seniors to go with six juniors and four sophomores on this year’s squad and some of the younger players went through the wars of a 17-14 season in 2015-16.
Last season, the team went to Marist and took a 64-41 beating at the hands of the RedHawks in a game that wasn’t even that close. Marist had a 31-point advantage at one point before both squads emptied their benches and McAuley was able to eat into that deficit a little bit.