The harsh reality of Lisle's 33-32 Class 2A regional final loss Thursday night to Walther Lutheran couldn't be avoided.
"I think it's pretty obvious what it came down to," Lisle coach Dan Murray said of his Lions' 8-of-18 free-throw shooting. "We didn't hit free throws. I mean it's painfully obvious to anybody out there."
And when they needed to, the Broncos made just enough free throws.
The Lions (23-6) led 27-21 after three quarters at IC Catholic Prep in Elmhurst, but Walther Lutheran gradually caught up by being aggressive defensively, taking its chances it might foul Lisle and send the Lions to the free-throw line. Lisle made just 2 of 10 free throws in the final quarter, twice missing the front end of a 1-and-1.
It also didn't help that the Lions committed 17 of their 22 turnovers in the second half.
"We talked about it," Murray said. "They went to (man-to-man defense). We're trying to outdribble them the length of the floor, which we're just not going to do. They came from behind, tipped a number of balls. We talked about that. We did not want to do that. We wanted to push to open areas, pick up the ball and then move it, and we did -- you hate to say an extremely poor job in a regional final to take these guys to the wire like we did, but in that capacity we did a poor job. We did a poor job there, we did a poor job from the free-throw line, and that's what cost us."
Walther Lutheran (23-6) took its first lead, 32-31, since 11-10 when Isimeme Edeko made a pair of free throws with 35.8 seconds to play. Lisle the tied the game with 27.5 seconds left on a Kristina Fernette free throw. With time winding down the Broncos' Dana Turner drove the baseline and earned a blocking foul with 1.0 seconds left. She made the second of two free throws to give the Broncos the win.
"She's our second-leading scorer," Broncos coach Todd Fisher said. "She's an outside threat and a threat to attack the basket, and we said in that last timeout, you've got to get to the basket."
Walther Lutheran had started the game scoring the first six points, but Lisle went on a 20-5 run from there, holding the Broncos scoreless in the second quarter.
"We knew the explosiveness that Walther has," Murray said. "We knew they were going to have runs. It was just a matter of containing the runs they had and bouncing back. They happened to start off the game with a run, and we came back well."
Lisle took a 22-11 lead after Kelly Urban opened the third quarter with a pair of free throws. She finished with a team-best 11 points, and Fernette added 10. Turner led the Broncos with 12.
"It wasn't like they went on a quick spurt late, it was we couldn't make free throws," Murray said. "That's what it was. It's frustrating."
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