Andrew Picks Up Where It Left Off Before Break
Sophomore Tiana Karopulos scores 18 points in Thunderbolts' victory over Aurora Christian on opening day of Oswego East tourney.
Andrew sophomore guard Tiana Karopulos may not be the loudest or most vocal player on the court, but her contributions to the team are hard to miss.
She did a little bit of everything Monday to help Andrew beat Aurora Christian 52-25 in the opening round of the Wolves Winter Classic at Oswego East High School.
Karopulos scored a game-high 18 points and added seven rebounds, seven steals and a handful of assists.
"Quiet is a really a good word to describe 'T' because she's a really quiet kid," Andrew coach Bob Matz said of Karopulos. "She can kind of look at the squad and decide where she can fit in best on that particular day.
"If there's a hot hand, she'll keep feeding the hot hand, if we're struggling to score, she can take it to the basket or she can hit the jump shot. She's a really good defender and has a great sense of the game. She doesn't quit and is as tough as they come. She's a very talented young lady."
Karopulos is one of the many reasons the Thunderbolts (8-1) are off to their best start since finishing 27-2 during the 1999-2000 season.
She was promoted to the varsity as a freshman right before the Oswego East Tournament last season.
"I'm always working hard and whatever happens out there happens," Karopulos said. "I just try to help the team any way I can. We're having a good year, and we picked up where we left off."
Andrew will play Plainfield North at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Plainfield North beat Metea Valley to advance.
Andrew, which is the No. 3 seed in the 16-team tournament, was playing its first game since Dec. 18 and got off to a bit of a slow start. The Thunderbolts led just 11-9 after one quarter before starting to pull away.
"I knew we were going to start out slow coming off the break, but I knew we'd eventually pick it up," said Karopulos, who had 10 points, five rebounds and four steals in the first half. "I was confident we'd start playing the way we have all season. I don't think we missed much during the break."
Andrew stretched its lead to 23-15 by halftime and then outscored Aurora Christian 21-5 in the third quarter to take a commanding 44-20 advantage.
Aurora Christian had 24 turnovers.
"Coming off a couple days of the holiday break, it's just a matter of getting your feet wet again," Matz said. "I thought, like us, they were out there playing hard and scrapping. We missed a lot of easy shots early and that kind of kept them in the game. I think in the second half our defense wore them down. We knew if we stayed with our constant pressure, it would wear them down. Some of our easier shots started falling for us, too."
Andrew freshman Molly Franson scored eight of her 10 points in the third quarter and also had six rebounds, three blocks and a steal in the win.
The Thunderbolts also received key contributions from senior Lauren Mangin (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals), junior Nicole Botich (5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), senior Sarah Barracca (2 points, 2 rebounds, steal), senior Shannon Clark (7 rebounds, block, steal) and junior Liz Jendra (4 steals).
Matz was glad to be back playing again.
"You kind of get into that nice rhythm of playing and then you have some days off," he said. "In years when you're not having a good season, you want the break because you need it. We had practice on Christmas Eve, and I told them I'm going to miss you guys for a couple days not seeing you because it's really been a great group to work with. I think some of the momentum we had just kept going. They were anxious and ready to go."