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Harvest Christian girls basketball coach Kelly Friestad knows the challenge her team is up against in the semifinals of the Class 1A Harvest regional.
So Monday night it was time for the Lions to have some fun.
Fourth-seeded Harvest Christian raced out to a 22-0 lead after one quarter and Friestad used the rest of the night to freely rotate her players on and off the floor in the Lions' 50-6 win over St. Martin de Porres in the play-in game of the regional tournament.
Harvest (7-19), which has now won 4 straight and 5 of its last 6, will take on top-seeded Westminster Christian (22-4) in tonight's 6 p.m. semifinal, with Elgin Academy meeting Christian Liberty in the nightcap. The winners return to Harvest at 7:30 p.m. Thursday for the regional title and a place in next week's Westminster sectional.
"Westminster's a good team and they're playing well," said Friestad, whose team has lost to the Warriors twice this season as well as in last year's regional championship game. "It's a big rivalry and if we come out ready to play we think we can stay with them. We'll have to rebound. "(Westminster's) Maddie (Versluys) has been doing a great job and they're aggressive. We'll have to keep the ball out of their hands and take care of the ball ourselves."
The Lions did that with little problem Monday against the undermanned Knights (1-8), who had only six players in uniform. Senior Sarah Kott had 15 points to lead Harvest, while sophomore Morgan Lockwood added 12 and sophomore leading scorer Kylee Knox added 9 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.
While the task tonight may be a tall one for the Lions, Friestad is pleased her team has some confidence coming into the regional semifinal. It's a streak of confidence gained by a 34-31 loss to Larkin on Jan. 18 in the Elgin City Classic.
"That was the first game where we really laid it all out on the floor," Friestad said. "We just kept fighting in that game. It takes all of them. Kylee is obviously our main player but that night other stepped up."
She also knows her team can enter tonight's game with no pressure.
"There's nothing to lose," said Friestad, whose Lions made 24 of 54 from the field Monday night. "We're not supposed to beat (Westminster) and that helps us to some degree. We played them in the regional championship last year and gave them a game so we're hoping for the same thing. We just have to come ready to play."
Freshman Rachel Oostdyk had 10 rebounds and 4 assists for the Lions Monday, while Kott added 4 steals.