The effort was stellar.
But the results were not what Cary-Grove boys basketball coach Ralph Schuetzle and his team were looking for.
Trailing for the better part of three quarters, top-seeded McHenry outscored fourth-seeded and upset-minded Cary-Grove 15-8 in the fourth quarter in posting a 45-40 win in semifinal action of the Class 4A Cary-Grove regional Tuesday night.
"We had the game at a good tempo for us until the fourth quarter," said Schuetzle. "They really beat us on the glass and our shot selection wasn't very good. The game really changed in a two-to-three minute span in the fourth quarter. The kids played hard all season and hung in there. We just had trouble scoring points all season long."
McHenry (11-15) will take on second-seeded Crystal Lake South for the regional championship Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Gators advanced to the title game with a 41-36 overtime win over third-seeded Jacobs. Cary-Grove ended the season at 8-21.
With 5:55 left in the game, the Trojans had a 36-35 lead after a 12-footer by Ryan Arquette. That would be the last point the Trojans would score for nearly 5 minutes.
Crashing the offensive glass with vengeance, McHenry scored 3 straight baskets on putbacks to take control of the game. Jasper Taylor, Robert Tonyan and Danny Glick all scored off offensive rebounds as the Warriors turned a 1-point deficit into a 5-point lead, 41-36, with 1:22 left.
With 58 ticks left, Eric Graham broke the scoring drought for the Trojans with an 18-footer just inside the 3-point arc to make the score 41-38.
Two free throws by Glick gave the Warriors a 5-point lead before Jake Bianchi got the Trojans within 3 of McHenry, 43-40, with 18 seconds left on a driving layup in the lane.
Shane Varvil sealed the win for McHenry with 2 free throws with 3.8 seconds left.
Tonyan led McHenry with 16 points.
"We were tentative in the first half," said McHenry coach Tim Paddock. "We were tight and didn't attack their match up zone very well."
Arquette led Cary-Grove with 13 points.