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Pregame pep talk fuels ACC girls

AURORA – The Aurora Central Catholic girls basketball team met with former Chargers players before its Friday night game against Walther Christian to talk some basketball.

The advice that the alumni bestowed on the current team seems to have taken an immediate effect. 

ACC beat Walther Christian, 47-31, in what junior guard Jordyn Sundberg said was an effort inspired by the team’s pregame conversation.

“Before the game started we had a bunch of alumni come in and talk to us and that meant a lot,” Sundberg said. “With them coming in to talk to us, it showed that we needed to play for them and play for each other and really come together as a team.”

ACC (8-6, 2-1 SCC Blue) clearly took the push to play team basketball to heart. The Chargers allowed only two Walther Christian points in the third quarter to take command of the game and build a strong lead.

The key for ACC in the third quarter was shutting down Walther Christian’s Dana Turner, who had scored 13 points in the first half and appeared poised to continue the effort into the third quarter. 

ACC coach Mark Fitzgerald knew that his team had to make adjustments defensively in order to slow down Turner and Walther Christian (3-10, 0-3 SCC Blue).

“We knew we would sacrifice the outside shot for the dribble drive and we knew that she’s a very excellent player, but, you take that away, it takes away a lot of her game,” Fitzgerald said. “So we switched it back to zone and mixed up the zones and the kids for the most part did a really good job. We got some key charges on her, and that was really good to see.”

Sundberg, who drew one of the offensive fouls on Turner, said that the game rested on how well the Chargers would bounce back defensively in the second half.

“That was our game plan the whole time to stop [Turner] and as you could see, we couldn’t really do that [in] the first half,” Sundberg said. “Once we realized that we just needed to step in front of her and take those charges, that’s what we ended up doing.”

Sundberg opened up the third quarter with a steal and took it all the way to the hoop for an easy layup to put ACC up, 30-21.

Junior forward Natalie Droeske added a layup, and freshman center Taylor Harazin tacked on two free throws to account for all the scoring the Chargers would get in the third quarter. 

The Broncos were scoreless until the final seconds of the quarter, when Turner put in a contested layup to move the score to 34-23 at the end of the period.

The six points that ACC scored in the third quarter were all that it would need. 

Turner scored six points in the final period for the Broncos, but ACC’s Gabi Alfaro countered with seven points of her own to prevent any sort of comeback. Kali Soris also scored five points in the fourth quarter for ACC.

Fitzgerald praised the play of Sundberg, even though most of her contributions could not be found on a stat sheet.

“She has come on unbelievably strong,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve been preaching about using the proper hand to make the steals, and she came up huge today for us. I mean she is the reason we won that game. A lot of good efforts everywhere, but she was key to us today.”

Alfaro (10), Soris (9), Alex Horton (8) and Sundberg (6) rounded out the top scorers for the Chargers. Walther Christian’s Turner finished with a game-high 21 points. 

Fitzgerald sees the game as a turning point for ACC, which has had an inconsistent start to its 2013-14 campaign.

“Hopefully this is the start of something good here,” Fitzgerald said.

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