It had been exactly two weeks to the day since the Walther Lutheran and Timothy Christian girls basketball teams had last met when they battled again Thursday night in the Class 2A Wheaton Academy regional final in West Chicago.
So neither team was surprised by what the other did. When the top-seeded Broncos (19-9) went 0 of 16 from the field in the first quarter, the second-seeded Trojans (19-8) knew what was coming.
Walther Lutheran turned on the speed and didn't let up, going on to win 41-26 and earning its third straight regional title.
The Broncos will head to Elmhurst to face Chicago Latin, the top seed and winner of the Parker regional, in a Timothy Christian sectional semifinal contest Monday.
"We are a streaky team when it comes to scoring," said Broncos coach Todd Fisher, whose team defeated the Trojans 42-35 on Jan. 26, said. "In the first quarter we missed five or six shots in the paint. We wanted to speed the game up and get easy baskets off our transition game and we went man-to-man.
"They jumped on us early in the first quarter the last time and we went to man in the second quarter, end of the first quarter."
The Trojans shot 3 of 7 in the first quarter during the Broncos' drought. But fortunes changed quickly in the second period as the Trojans cooled to 2 of 9 and the Broncos hit a much healthier 6 of 11 to lead 16-12 at halftime.
Also helping Walther Lutheran was a solid control of the boards with a 17-12 halftime edge and 35-27 advantage for the game.
Crucial to Walther Lutheran's effort during the second was junior forward Isimeme Edeko scoring 8 of her team-high 12 points, then including two free throws that put her team up 16-9 with 2:11 until intermission.
Edeko finished with a game-high 12 rebounds as well. Teammate Melanie Ransom had 10.
The Trojans stayed on Walther Lutheran's heels throughout the third quarter, trailing just 24-21 at the end of it, helped by Walther Lutheran's 3-of-14 performance from the field.
The game stayed close until late in the fourth quarter when Timothy Christian had to start fouling. The Broncos made 8 of 14 free throws in the last 1:28 of the contest.
Timothy Christian was led by Tessa Bosman's 12 points and 8 rebounds. Teammate Cassidy Block also had 8 rebounds.
Trojans coach Ryan DeKoekkoek praised his team's effort. He said the squad simply did not execute.
"This was uncharacteristic of us. It was like, let's play super fast. We were passing to people that didn't expect it. We didn't execute, part of that was Walther Lutheran," he said. "We knew what it meant to focus on one game."
The Trojans, Metro Suburban Conference champ, had high hopes for the postseason.
"It's a sad way to see it end for us, especially for our seniors. Seven of the 12 (on the roster) were seniors. Five played a lot of minutes. It's sad. This group had done a lot," DeKoekkoek said.