Streamwood may have been deflated but it was not defeated when Conant sophomore Haley Anderson hit a pair of game-extending buzzer-beaters in Thursday's quarterfinals of the Mundelein Holiday Classic girls basketball tournament.
But when the final buzzer sounded after 40 minutes and a pair of overtimes, the Sabres were relieved and elated as Hannah McGlone and Jessica Cerda combined for 47 points in a 65-56 victory that put them in the Mundelein semifinals for the first time.
"The fact we really wanted to be in that semifinal (drove us)," McGlone said after scoring 5 of her game-high 24 points in the second overtime. "We knew we haven't been there at all before."
The 6-foot junior made it possible by hitting 8-of-14 shots from the field and 8-of-10 free throws to go with 13 rebounds, 6 blocked shots and 3 assists. Cerda scored 14 of her 23 points in the second quarter to put the Sabres (14-2) into today's 5 p.m. semifinal of the 12-team tourney against Vernon Hills (16-0), which beat Cary-Grove 44-33.
"It was tough, we had the lead and it shouldn't have gone to the first overtime," said Streamwood coach George Rosner of the extra time needed to get a shot at last year's Class 3A state runner-up. "Then it goes to double overtime when all we had to do was screen out.
"But the girls came back and kept playing hard and played smart, especially in the second overtime to get the ball in the right people's hands."
Conant (5-10) also showed plenty of guts and resolve for a team with four sophomore starters and no seniors on its roster. It overcame 29.7 percent shooting from the field (22-for-74) and deficits of 26-17 with 56 seconds left in the first half and 45-38 with 4:16 to go in regulation.
"We've worked our butts off all season," Anderson said after she had 12 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out 55 seconds into the second overtime. "Every girl who stepped on the floor in a white jersey today played their hardest and really gave it their best effort."
A steal and layup by Katie Lomas (12 points, 8 rebounds) started the Cougars' regulation drive to keep playing as Streamwood committed 5 turnovers, missed 4 shots and air-balled a 1-and-1 with 13.7 seconds left. After a timeout, Anderson got the ball at the free-throw line and her shot just before the buzzer hit the back rim and dropped softly through the net for a 45-45 tie.
Streamwood led 50-48 at McGlone split 2 free throws with 1:31 left in the first overtime and got the ball back. But after an offensive foul at 0:57, Conant worked the ball and Lexi Zades' 3 rattled in and out, a follow by Sarah Mazurek (9 points, 8 rebounds) missed but Anderson grabbed it and scored again before the buzzer.
"I thought we made it tougher on ourselves and a couple more rebounds and that game's over," McGlone said. "After we got the lead we took off a little bit to conserve energy and we shouldn't be doing that."
Especially since Anderson was fouled on her right-side drive to put Conant up 52-50 with 3:11 left.
"I felt we had a bit of an emotional lead but we had to keep our composure," Anderson said of the Cougars' first lead since 17-16. "Thirty-two plus (minutes) is what coach (Dan Travers) always tells us."
Streamwood quickly got a 2-on-1 break after the missed free throw and Holly Foret found McGlone for a layup and 3-point play that fouled out Anderson. McGlone then found Deja Moore for a layup but Conant cut it to 55-54 on Dee Dee Durr's rebound basket at 2:08.
But after Conant missed a 1-and-1 at 1:46, McGlone hit a short turnaround to start a decisive 10-1 tear as Streamwood hit all 6 of its free throws to finish 21-for-26.
"They had really good fight and didn't give up ... and we had it when we needed it," McGlone said of the Sabres' 12th win in 13 games.
"Our girls play so hard and I'm so proud of their effort," Travers said, "against a very good Streamwood team that's very skilled and has some offensive talent. We just have to get better at some of the little things and maybe we'll get what we want."