Glenbard South is going home again, but Nazareth made the young Raiders earn a happy bus ride back.
Glenbard South had to rally to force overtime, then gutted out a 49-45 victory at the Class 3A Nazareth girls basketball regional final in LaGrange Park on Friday night.
After seeing how Nazareth (11-15) benefitted from a homecourt advantage and a rowdy student cheering section, the Raiders (17-11) will have their own homecourt advantage Tuesday night when they host St. Joseph in an 8:10 p.m. sectional semifinal.
"Nazareth played a tremendous game, my girls dug deep, that's the kind of basketball you want to see at this time of year," said Raiders coach Julie Fonda, who played three freshmen and two sophomores.
A 9-0 first-quarter run gave the Raiders a lead they held until Patricia Masterson tied the game at 40 with 1:44 to play in the fourth quarter, then gave the Roadrunners a 2-point lead with a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left.
"We were kind of nervous, but we just kept our heads up and kept pushing because we know what we wanted," Raiders senior Patrice Hicks said. "We wanted a regional championship, and that's what we got."
As time wound down, the Raiders looked for a shot against Nazareth's aggressive 2-3 zone. The ball wound up in Jenna Brambora's hands, and the freshman drove down the middle of the lane for a runner that banked in with two seconds on the clock.
"I just heard them counting down and I knew we were hurried to make the shot and tie, so I was aggressive, and took it in, and if I didn't make it, hoping to draw a foul," Brambora said.
"That was awesome," Hicks said. "A freshman tying the game up in a regional championship, that was amazing."
The overtime period was scoreless the first 2½ minutes until freshman Ivana Markovic fed classmate Sydney Bauman for a short jumper and a lead the Raiders never gave up despite the Roadrunners' pressure.
Stefani Bazigos scored 10 to lead Glenbard South, Brambora and Tomei Ball added 9, but Fonda clearly leaned on Hicks down the stretch, and Hicks responded, finishing with 5 points and 9 key rebounds.
"She's had her ups and downs this year, and she's come a long way, and she's a kid that I'll never give up on," Fonda said. "She carried us a little bit toward the end.
"I talked to her before the game even started, and it was one of the first games she started in a very long time, and I told her, put us on your back and carry us. ... She did the intangibles. I don't think she had very many points, but the rebounding is irreplaceable. When she goes up to get a board, she's head and shoulders above everybody else, and she does a great job of securing the basketball."