Parker, defense stun Marian in runaway victory
By Alan Sutton

Tribune staff reporter

March 8, 2003

Redhawks relentless
NORMAL, Ill. -- Candace Parker had never been Downstate for the Class AA girls basketball quarterfinals before, but Friday she felt right at home at Illinois State's Redbird Arena.

Naperville Central's 6-foot-3-inch junior and her teammates flattened Marian Catholic with a knockout performance that kept the Redhawks' perfect season alive. Parker came up with 28 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in a stunningly one-sided 61-41 win over last season's state runner-up.

"We had good friends all week long giving us scouting reports on what they used against Candace," Marian Catholic coach Shannon Reidy said. "And we tried them all. A 3-2 zone, trapping defense and man-to-man. And she continued to beat us up.

"It's difficult to find someone that tall, that athletic and that mobile to keep up with her."

Marian Catholic (29-4) couldn't, and that's why No. 1 Naperville Central is now 33-0 and headed for a Saturday semifinal matchup with Regina.

"I was very surprised," Parker said about this ease of this victory over Marian Catholic, a team ranked No. 3 in the Chicago area whose worst loss this season was by 16 to Fenwick.

And while Parker did have what Central coach Andy Nussbaum called "a typical Candace Parker game," the Redhawks showed so much more.

"People think it's just Candace and that's all there is to watch," Nussbaum said. "And she's a lot to watch. But our defense had a big game."

Central forced Marian Catholic into eight turnovers in the first quarter, when the Redhawks took a 21-9 lead. For the game, the Spartans turned the ball over 21 times to Central's 11.

Redhawks freshman Erica Carter proved her effectiveness despite picking up four fouls. She had eight of her 10 points in the first quarter and five steals to lead the team.

Rachel Crissy added 13 points and 6-1 senior Courtney Peters eight. Those three players plus Parker hit 26 of their 45 shots.

Missy Mitidiero and Lauren Lacey, who helped the Spartans take second place last season, each wound up with 11 points while Mary Basic added 10 for a team ranked No. 25 nationally by USA Today.

"I think a lot of people underestimate our defense," Crissy said.

They probably won't anymore.

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