Plainfield East rolls past Lockport; earns rematch with Oswego East in regional final

Olivia Jenkins talks about Plainfield East's win over Lockport. Jenkins scored 26 points.

Posted by Plainfield Sports Network on Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Typically a matchup between seven and 10 seeds is a close game, but that wasn’t the case in the Plainfield East Regional semifinal.

Plainfield East, the No. 7 seed, got off to a fast start and never looked back in a 70-55 win over No. 10 Lockport.

“Losing Kennedy (Collins) Tuesday, we knew it would be a big loss for us and she would be out for a little bit,” East coach Anthony Wazonis said. “It was big for us to step up and have a good start. The last four games we’ve played well and gotten to 70 points and played well defensively. That is what has led us all year.”

The Bengals forced 20 first half turnovers en route to a 19-8 lead after the first quarter and a 36-14 lead at the half.

“Our goal is to run as little offense as possible and have our defense transition into our offense,” East’s Olivia Jenkins said. “Ashley Smoldt had a ton of steals, Lota (Onua) had a lot of steals. I think we are playing the best we ever have.”

“We were doing the things we wanted to do, it wasn’t just them throwing it away,” Wazonis said. “We were able to get in passing lanes, too.”

The lead ballooned to 40-14 in the third quarter and 67-35 early in the fourth quarter before the Porters scored 16 straight points against mostly East reserves.

Jenkins led the way with 28 points, while Jada Neal added 18.

“I was knocking down a lot of shots, I think I only missed a couple,” Jenkins said. “It was a pretty good shooting night and hopefully that carries forward to Thursday. I felt I had to step up with Kennedy out because she is a starter. Her going down with an injury really hurts the team. But we all picked it up tonight. Jada had 18 and I think we all picked it up.”

“She has a nice shot and is hard to guard,” Wazonis said of Jenkins. She’s going to be a bull down low and score easy, and then you sag off of her and she can hit that shot at the top of the key. Our bigs have to play well.”

The Bengals now will get a third crack at No. 2 seed Oswego East Thursday at Plainfield East. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Plainfield East is one win short of matching a program record for wins and will be looking for its first regional title in program history.

The team in its way, the Wolves, have beaten the Bengals in both meetings this season and finished ahead of them for the conference title. Still the Bengals know they can compete with the Wolves.

“We played the first game without Kennedy as well,” Wazonis said. “And we were in it in the first half. We just have to get over that mental hump. We knew when seedings came out what we were up against. We’re happy to make it there, but we aren’t settling for just making it there. It is someone we know and we know what we have to do. We have to play great. Good isn’t good enough to beat them. But we have the advantage of being at our house. We’re going to have to be at our best.”

“Last year we lost to Plainfield North twice going into the regional finals and beat them when it counted. I’m pretty confident we can do it again,” Jenkins said.

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