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Keller steps up for Rolling Meadows
By Bill Esbrook | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 1/18/2013 11:29 PM

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With all the high-flying, high-scoring players around her, Rolling Meadows center Morgan Keller doesn’t get a lot of chances to dent the scorebook.

What the 6-foot-senior can do is a lot of the little things it takes to win.

Keller helped the state-ranked Mustangs fight off a strong effort from Prospect Friday to score a 69-46 victory over the Knights at Jean Walker Field House in Mount Prospect.

The senior — the only upperclassman on a junior-laden Mustangs team — took control in the second quarter as Prospect closed to within 2 points.

Her effort on the boards (6 rebounds), on defense (3 blocks), at the hoop (9 points) and her overall leadership helped stem the Knights’ surge.

“I was disappointed with the way we played in the first half,” said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky, “and I told the team at halftime that if it wasn’t for Morgan’s effort, we would have been in a lot more trouble than we were.”

Keller’s performance in the second quarter, which helped lead the Mustangs to a 29-22 advantage at the half, was even more impressive considering that two Meadows starters (Jackie Kemph and Jenny Vliet) were on the bench in foul trouble.

“I just try to be as strong as I can in the post,” said the senior, “and do whatever needs to be done to help the team.”

“Whatever it takes,” said Keller, who has committed to Illinois State and will compete on the track and field team for the Redbirds. “My teammates and I all feel that we’ve got a great shot to go far this season — and that’s why we’re working as hard as we possibly can.”

Prospect’s strong defensive effort continued in the third quarter, and the Knights were able to close the gap thanks to the agressiveness of sophomore guard Taylor Will. She scored 13 of her team high 19 points in the third stanza on a variety of moves to the basket.

“For the last seven or eight games,” said Knights coach Ashley Graham, “Taylor has really competed for us at a high level.

“Overall I thought that both times we’ve played Meadows this season we’ve played well defensively. We were definitely locked in on ‘D’ tonight in the first two quarters, but in the second half it got away from us a little bit.”

Meadows (19-1, 6-0), ranked third in Class 4A in the latest state poll, used an 8-point run late in the third quarter to open up a 51-37 lead going into the final eight minutes.

The Mustangs were finally able to take control in the 4th as Lexi Glasgow (4 3-pointers) led the way with a team-high 19 points and Vliet added 14.

Jackie Kemph scored 12 for Meadows, while Adriane Falagario scored 13 for the home-standing Knights (11-9, 2-4) before going down with an apparent knee injury in the late going.

Sami Kay and Ashley Montanez each tallied 4 points for Meadows while Elizabeth Vasilogambros pitched in with a long fourth-quarter 3.

“I give a lot of credit to Prospect,” said Kirkorsky. “They’ve got good players and they play tough. What we were able to do tonight was rebound and play good defense, and that transitions into good play at the offensive end.”