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Streamwood senior Jessica Cerda may not have scored her 1,000th career point at Bartlett Wednesday night, but points 997, 998 and 999 were awfully important for the Sabres.
Cerda's 3-pointer with 4:26 left in the game capped Streamwood's long road back to a tie, then the Chicago State recruit let her teammates win it from the free throw line as Streamwood knocked off Bartlett 43-36 in a nonconference girls basketball game between the Elgin Area School District U-46 rivals that had to be scheduled outside of the UEC crossover puzzle.
The Sabres snapped a 12-game Bartlett hex with the victory, winning over the Hawks for the first time since Jan. 10, 2002.
"It was much more important to get the win than score my 1,000th point. I'm not worrying about that right now," said the humble Cerda, who finished with 16 and will need just a single point tonight at Batavia to become the sixth Streamwood player in program history to reach 1,000 points.
"The team winning is what's important. It doesn't matter who scores."
There wasn't much scoring of any kind going on early in Wednesday's game, as the host Hawks (8-6) took a 6-4 lead after a first quarter that saw the teams shoot a combined 4-for-22.
But shots started to fall and the pace of the game picked up in the second quarter, and Bartlett was the aggressor. By halftime the Hawks had used a massive 23-9 rebounding edge to help them to a 21-15 lead.
"We played a lousy first half," lamented Streamwood coach George Rosner, whose team didn't fare well in any facet of the game in the first 16 minutes as Bartlett coach Denise Sarna devised a plan to make the Sabres beat her team from the outside.
"Give Denise and Bartlett credit," Rosner said. "They had a game plan and they challenged us to shoot from outside and we didn't hit them. They took away the inside on us and the only good news was that we were only down by six at halftime."
The Hawks' game plan stayed together during the third quarter and the Hawks took a 31-26 advantage into the final period after leading by as many as 9 during the third.
But then came Streamwood's run. Senior Deja Moore scored on a putback a minute into the quarter and that sent the Sabres (11-2) on a 9-0 run that didn't end until they had a 35-31 lead after 2 free throws from Moore with 1:44 to play. Cerda's 3-pointer from the right side at 4:26 tied the game at 31 and the Sabres took their only lead of the night, and the advantage for good, on 2 free throws from junior Holly Foret with 2:56 left.
Bartlett didn't score in the fourth quarter until senior Alyssa Hernandez canned an 8-footer with 1:03 left to make it a 35-33 game. But Moore and junior Hannah McGlone went 6 of 6 from the line and Foret got a breakaway layup all in the final 35 seconds as the Sabres were able to pull out a long-awaited win over Bartlett.
"We all just calmed down and realized what we had to do," said the 5-foot-10 Cerda, who also had 5 steals. "Bartlett is a big rival and we wanted to beat them on their floor. The free throws were big by Deja and Hannah. This feels great. We've only played them twice since my freshman year and losing to them at home last year (54-37 on UEC crossover night) hurt because we felt we had a good team. We just had the mindset tonight that we could do it and we got it done."
Moore joined Cerda with 16 points for the Sabres, while McGlone grabbed 13 rebounds as Streamwood came back in the second half to outrebound Bartlett 14-10. The Sabres shot 14 of 39 from the floor on the night and the Hawks were 12-for-36. Each team had 24 turnovers.
"We had some great free-throw shooting down the stretch," said Rosner, who also credited junior Sukurat Giwa for coming off the bench and providing a defensive spark. "We had one offensive rebound in the first half and we did a much better job with that in the second half.
"I would have liked Jess to have gotten her 1,000th her tonight but the win is more important. I'm proud of them that they stayed with it and came back. Denise and I always know our teams are going to compete hard against each other. She's definitely had some talented teams but we always give them a battle just like they gave us a battle tonight."
Junior Elizabeth Arco had 11 points, 16 rebounds and 5 steals for Bartlett, which travels to Metea Valley tonight for a UEC Valley game. Hernandez added 10 points and senior Chantel Zasada had 7 points and 5 steals.
"Credit Streamwood," said Sarna. "They're a veteran team that's played together. Their girls showed some poise at the end and they made their free throws. We're still improving and we did some good things tonight but they were quicker to the ball at the end and they got to a lot of loose balls."