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Prairie Ridge hangs on against Carmel
By Rusty Silber | Daily Herald Correspondent

Carmel’s Nicole Bitter, middle, looks to pass as Prairie Ridge’s Brianne Fenton, left, and Amanda Hoyland defend during their game at the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Monday.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Carmel’s Kathleen Felicelli, left, drives on Prairie Ridge’s Kailey Aldridge at the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Monday.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Carmel’s Claire Ogrinc, right, defends against Prairie Ridge’s Robin Manarik at the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Monday.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Carmel’s Paige Gautheir, left, drives on Prairie Ridge’s Sarah LeBeau at the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Monday.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Carmel’s Nicole Bitter, left, and Paige Gauthier scramble for a loose ball with Prairie Ridge’s Robin Manarik at the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Monday.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Prairie Ridge’s Alex Neckopoulos, right, drives on Carmel’s Paige Gauthier at the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Monday.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Carmel’s Emma Rape, left, drives on Prairie Ridge’s Kelly Klendworth at the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Monday.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/12/2012 10:14 PM

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In the opening game of the season, Carmel Catholic’s girls basketball team had a chance to win in the final seconds.

Instead, Prairie Ridge saw its own chance, and the Wolves took their opportunity, beating Carmel 49-48 in opening-game of the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Monday afternoon.

The Corsairs were down by 1 point with the ball and made a couple of passes in an attempt to set up a final shot. But the Wolves’ Alex Neckopolous stepped in under the basket and got a game-ending steal.

“I felt there were a lot of those plays in the game,” Carmel Catholic coach Kelly Perz said. “There was a fumble-bumble, and out of bounds.

“Maybe first-game jitters. They’re still figuring out how to play with each other, the chemistry ... Who might take the last shot? Those roles haven’t been defined on our team.”

The Corsairs were led by Kathleen Felicelli with 16 points, and Nicole Bitter added 8 points.

Carmel jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first quarter as its press defense caused Prairie Ridge some problems. The Corsairs led 15-5 heading into the second quarter.

Prairie Ridge took advantage of numerous Corsairs fouls and made 14 of 16 free throws in the second quarter. Carmel had a 28-27 lead at the break.

The Wolves carried their momentum into the second half and outscored the Corsairs 16-6 in the third quarter to lead 43-34.

“We were sloppy on offense and didn’t take care of the ball,” Perz said. “Defensively, we got in foul trouble in the first half which let (Prairie Ridge) back into the game.

“We just didn’t make our free throws (27 of 37). All those things don’t add up to getting a victory.”

Carmel tried to rally in the fourth quarter with a 13-4 run that tied the game at 47-47 on a pair of free throws from Felicelli with 1:07 left in the game.

Prairie Ridge got a big bucket from Neckopolous (team-high 11 points) with 50 seconds left, making the score 49-47.

Felicelli (10 of 17 at the foul line) made 1 of 2 free throws with 35 seconds remaining and cut the deficit to 1 for Carmel.

The Wolves missed the front end of two one-and-bonus opportunities in the final 12 seconds to give the Corsairs chances to win.

“It was kind of ugly,” Prairie Ridge coach Rob Baker said. “We weren’t making shots at the beginning. We were all nervous for the first game and had to settle in.

“(Carmel’s) press is different than most others do, with three people up front. We were throwing the ball over them on the inbound pass.”

Carmel takes on Highland Park at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mundelein as the tournament continues.