HINSDALE — Conant’s Elizabeth Gonyea and Hinsdale’s Angelina Nardolillo make it look so easy.
The two seniors went head-to-head on Tuesday night, and both rose to the occasion for their respective teams in the Conant girls basketball team’s 64-40 win over host Hinsdale.
“I felt pretty good out there,” said Gonyea, who recorded a game-high 27 points in the season opener. “I think it was just nice to play a regular game.
“Knowing that it was my last ‘first’ high school game is kind of special, too,” she added.
Conant sophomore Brynn Rautiola supplemented Gonyea’s performance with 15 points of her own, while junior Teagan Kirby added 14.
“It was a good game; Hinsdale’s a good team,” said Conant head coach Brian Troy. “It’s just a good contest between two pretty good teams.”
And that’s what the limited crowd saw early on, with Conant (1-0) storming out to a 12-2 lead before Hinsdale (1-1) climbed back to bring it to 17-14 early on in the second quarter.
But Gonyea took over from there and, by halftime, the Orioles were ahead by 12.
Gonyea kept it going in the second half, hitting a three-pointer to start the third quarter, which seemed to thwart Hinsdale’s hopes of an upset.
“When [Gonyea is] playing relaxed and she’s just playing good team basketball, she’s really at her best,” Troy said. “I thought she was a little sped up in the first quarter, but she settled down and made simple basketball reads so that was good to see.”
On the other end of the court, Nardolillo was doing her part for Hinsdale, coming up with big blocks, rebounds and passes.
“To have me being more of a passer instead of the main option, it’s a lot better,” said Nardolillo, who scored 18 points. “And I think it opens up everyone else’s opportunities to score because if they double down on me, I have the ability to pass it out easier than I could before.”
Hinsdale senior Delaney Wilcox scored seven points in the loss.
Hinsdale, a Division 4 power last year (16-2), knew they had a challenge ahead of them going up against the reigning Division 3 state champions, who brought back four of their starters from last year’s team. But they welcomed the challenge.
“I thought we hung in well,” said Hinsdale head coach Terry Bonnette. “Late they started to really extend it, get away from us a little bit, but we won’t see any teams like that in Division 4, so it’s good for us to play them and see what’s out there.”
“I loved it, I was really excited to play against some good competition,” Nardolillo said. “It was super fun to play against them. I like these high-paced games and I think it’s good for us too because it makes us better.”
Ordinarily the teams wouldn’t play each other, but with pandemic restrictions forcing regional play, they’ll have multiple battles this season. They meet again Thursday in Jaffery at 5:30 p.m.
“It won’t get any easier,” Bonnette said with a chuckle. “At first, we got overwhelmed with their quickness, but then I think we answered.”
“One day at a time,” Troy said. “I’m sure they’ll throw some new things at us and they’ll adjust and we’ll make a couple adjustments and it should be another good game Thursday. I think the score didn’t really tell all it was tonight, I think it’s going to be closer in the next match-ups.”