McCoy, STM start strong

McCoy, STM start strong

NAPERVILLE — As some big-time spectators watched from the stands, St. Thomas More sophomore Tori McCoy registered a big-time performance.

McCoy scored 25 points (on 11-of-13 shooting) and had 12 rebounds and five blocks Tuesday night as the top-ranked (Class 2A) Sabers opened the girls’ basketball season with a 67-53 win against sixth-ranked (Class 4A) Neuqua Valley.

College coaches from Illinois, Kentucky, Purdue and Western Michigan were in attendance and saw STM score the game’s first six points and never trail.

Sabers coach Chris Mennig was surprised by what he saw.

“I did not expect us to come out as composed handling the ball, across the board, as we did,” Mennig said. “This was a pleasant surprise.”

Lexi Wallen had 22 points and nine rebounds. Randa Harshbarger had seven assists and five second-half steals.

“We put a lot on her shoulders, and Randa was able to handle the pressure, as she always does,” Mennig said.

Courtney Wax scored eight points, and Liz Bristow had seven points. Those two, along with key reserves Leah Allison and Hannah Murray, quickly became acclimated to the pressure-cooker.

“This was the first time the spotlight was on them and, for the most part, they stayed composed,” Mennig said.

Wax nailed two three-pointers, and the 6-foot-4 McCoy hit the first one in her prep career.

As for the state rankings, Mennig said they will become more meaningful as the season progresses.

“Rankings in the preseason are the ripple effect of what the previous season’s team did,” he said. “That is a credit to last year (and the state runner-up performance). What we do moving forward will be on this year’s team. Everybody sees the talent we have. It’s just not normal in 2A basketball.”

St. Thomas More plays its home opener at 7:15 p.m. Thursday against Danville in the Blue Star Tournament.

“It’s not about the wins. It’s about how you’re doing it,” Mennig said. “They trimmed our lead to one or two points, but we never relinquished the lead.”