CHICAGO -- Elizabeth Williams had reason to smile.
The 6-foot-3 forward from Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) was grinning ear-to-ear after scoring a record 23 points and hauling in 11 rebounds to lead her East team to a 78-66 win over the West in the girls' McDonald's All-American Game Wednesday night.
"I like playing in big games, so I was just excited, I was happy," she said. "The bigger the better."
Williams, of Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) High School, surpassed the record of Alexis Hornbuckle, who had 22 points during the 2004 game.
A Duke-bound senior who was named the 2011 Morgan Wooten Player of the Year two weeks ago, Williams scored the most points in the 10-year history of the girls' game. Tennessee recruit Ariel Massengale of nearby Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.), added 13 points for the East, while Bria Smith of Christ the King (New York, N.Y.) had 10 points and four assists.
Brianna Banks of Fayette County (Fayetteville, Ga.) paced the West squad with 17 points, while fellow UConn recruit Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) added 12.
The West came into the game leading the series 7-2, and in the postgame press conference, Smith said the East squad derived some extra motivation from the trash talking the West did after Tuesday's practice.
"They might have got a little cocky yesterday in the little scrimmage," she said, cracking her teammates up. "[The West] ended up beating us and there was some talk going around last night.
"We just had the mindset of going out there today and we weren't going to lose again."
Both teams played tough defense in the early going — unusual for a showcase. The East finished with 15 blocks and nine steals, while the West had seven rejections and 20 thefts. But the tight D only last so long. Up 22-17 with just under ten minutes to go in the first half, the East squad used an 18-1 run over the next six minutes to break the game open.
On the second-to-last play of the run, the East's Samantha Logic dribbled down the floor, evading three defenders before zipping a left-handed bounce pass under the basket to Smith, who converted a nifty reverse layup. The play got a big response from the crowd — thanks in no small part to the large, yellow-shirted contingent there to see Logic, an Iowa-bound guard from J.I. Case (Racine, Wis.).
"When she was named All-American people just kept emailing and calling and saying, 'That's awesome. Can we go to the game? How do we get tickets?'," said Logic's mother, Julie, who filled a 78-person double decker bus with Samantha's friends and family. "And I thought, let's try to get together a group. And here we are."
The West repeatedly trimmed the East's 46-27 halftime lead in the second frame, but Williams and the East kept them at arm's length. Distance shooting was a big part of the difference. While the East went 7-of-16 from beyond the arc for the game, the West was just 4-of-23. Mosqueda-Lewis, who won the 3-point contest Monday night, had half of the West's treys.
After scoring the record-breaking bucket with just over a minute to play, Williams came out to a loud ovation — smiling all the while.