Westminster Christian guard Kinsley Donahue was disappointed that Thursday's snowstorm pushed the Class 1A Harvest Christian girls basketball regional final to Friday.
Even more so for the pumped-up Donahue, as the game began Friday night, she waited even longer being the sixth man in Ken Flickinger's group.
But when Flickinger called for her to settle her teammates down when the Warriors were trailing by 3 points with 1:43 left in the first quarter, Donahue's role became even more important. Westminster needed her spark off the bench to get the team back in the flow.
"I kind of prayed a lot before the game and I feel I kind of got the strength," said Donahue. "Coach encouraged me to make an effort when I came off the bench to spark something."
Donahue rose to the occasion. Her 13 points and 4 rebounds, including 6 points in the second quarter, helped Westminster fight off Christian Liberty, which hung around in the first half. Freshman Maddie Versluys took care of the rest with a game-high 21 points, including 7 rebounds as top-seeded Westminster grabbed a second-straight regional crown in a 62-43 win over No. 2 Christian Liberty at the Mitchell Swaback Athletic Center in Elgin.
The Warriors (24-4) now have the chance to win a sectional championship on their home floor next week. They will face off with Providence-St. Mel in a semifinal Monday at 7:30 p.m.
"Five, six-years ago, who couldn't have dreamed this would happen to us but we certainly like our chances and it's just one game at a time for us," said Flickinger, who watched the Chargers' Shelbi Hernandez (11 points, 7 rebounds) make it tough on the Warriors to rebound early on. She kept the Chargers (17-10) in it and Jessica Moriaty, who led Christian Liberty with 20 points and 5 rebounds, seemed to hit shots when CLA needed them. Her 3-point play forced Flickinger to call time in the first quarter when he was forced to adjust.
"John Wooden says be quick, don't hurry," said Flickinger, whose team shot 5 for 13 in the first quarter and turned it over 6 times.
Westminster went on a 6-1 run to end the quarter but Hernandez converted an offensive rebound to tie it back up in the early going of the second.
But the Warriors went up 22-17 with 4:37 left when Versluys was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and then Donahue scored on back-to-back plays after she put back a rebound and scored on a layup off a steal that pushed the lead to 8. Westminster took a 9-point lead into the half closing on a 8-3 run.
In the third, the Warriors kept trapping and Versluys extended the lead to 10 on a layup. Then Donahue converted a 3-point play to make 43-30 with 5:29 left.
"We came out in that third quarter and gave it up too many times," said Chargers coach Steve Rowland, whose team allowed 14 steals on 20 turnovers against the Warriors' trap. "When they get (the score) up, it's hard to come back on that team. They're very quick, they're very aggressive and they do a great job."
Westminster won the glass 37-28, including 21 offensive rebounds. Liz Meschewski (6 points) led with 10 and Claire Speweik had 7 to go with her 6 points.
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