Kristina Fernette's thoughts were filled with past free-throw failures.
When it mattered most, she came through.
Fernette knocked in a pair of go-ahead free throws in overtime, and Lisle hung on to beat IC Catholic Prep 40-36 in Tuesday's Class 2A regional semifinal in Elmhurst.
Fernette had earlier split a pair of free throws with 34.8 seconds left in regulation, missing the second for the lead. She also had not forgot missing the front end of a 1-and-1 down 1 in the fourth quarter of a 1-point loss to Newark in Lisle's Christmas tournament final.
"That was tough, but I came back -- I made up for it tonight," said the Lisle senior, who scored 7 points, all at the free-throw line. "I just took a deep breath and thank goodness, they both went in."
Fernette's two makes with 1:23 remaining in overtime made it 38-36.
In a game where points were at a premium, Lisle (23-5) enjoyed a huge advantage at the free-throw line. The Lions made 15 of 22, including their first 6 attempts in overtime. IC Catholic Prep (16-12) attempted just 4, making 2.
Lisle advances to play Walther Lutheran, a 54-26 winner over Westmont, in Thursday's regional final -- going for its first title since 2004. Allow coach Dan Murray and the Lions to enjoy this one for a moment.
"I'm just proud of the kids' resilience," Murray said. "This time of year that's what it's all about. I've been on the other side of these games. To be on the winning side is pretty nice."
A close, defensive-minded game was expected, and it didn't disappoint.
The biggest lead for either side was Lisle's 20-15 advantage at halftime, a margin cut to 30-29 heading into the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by ICCP's Abby Radoha gave the Knights their first lead since 2-0 at 32-30 a minute into the fourth quarter, and a driving layup by Brittney Reaber made it 34-30.
Sara Mogensen hit a 3 to cut it to 34-33, and after Fernette's free throw tied it ICCP was unable to get off a shot in the final possession of regulation.
Radoha banked in a jumper to start the overtime scoring, and Kelly Urban tied it for Lisle with two free throws with 2:40 left. Urban scored 10 points, Sierra Birdsell 9 and Lisle's third senior, Skyler Tomko, also hit a pair of free throws in overtime.
Close calls are nothing new to Lisle. Of the Lions' last 11 games alone, six were decided by 4 points or less.
"That's what coach told us before, was that this is just another game," Fernette said. "We've been in them all year."
Rory Manion scored 15 points with 8 rebounds for ICCP, all of her scoring in the game's first three quarters. Radoha added 7 and Reaber 6.
"I thought both teams played really hard," Knights coach Aubree Lawrence said. "It was exactly the kind of game I was expecting."
Reaber and Marissa Mesnard are the only two seniors graduating off a Knights team that won the program's first conference championship this season, splitting the Suburban Christian Gold with St. Francis and Aurora Christian.
"This is such a special group," Lawrence said. "Super coachable, they do whatever I ask of them. Moving on there's a lot to be excited about."
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