With the game on the line, Prospect's Marissa Pacini went to the line.
The 5-foot-8 junior guard/forward converted 1 of 2 free throws with 9.7 seconds left, and that was enough for the No. 10-seeded Knights to hold on for a 57-55 victory over No. 7 Barrington in the semifinal of the Fremd Class 4A girls basketball regional on Tuesday night.
Prospect (15-12) will face No. 2 seeded Fremd (24-7) for the regional title on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
"That first free throw by Marissa was huge," said Knights coach Ashley Graham. "It's a totally different game with a 2-point lead. If it's only 1 point, obviously they can come down and win. Now the pressure is on them."
Pacini admitted she felt some pressure.
"I was a little nervous but coach shouted at me and told me to breathe easy and relax," said Pacini, who had 4 points in the game.
Moments later, Prospect fans were breathing easier as the Knights' defense didn't allow Barrington to get a shot off in the remaining seconds
"It was all of us," said Graham, whose team led by as many as 10 points in the second half. "What a team win. This team is learning how to win and close out games. A lot of kids can run the show for us and it's exciting."
Taylor Will put on another exciting show with a game-high 21 points while handling the basketball, rebounding and seemingly doing everything else on the floor.
"And she's only a sophomore," Graham said of the 5-foot-10 guard who was coming off an 18-point, 17-rebound effort against Schaumburg.
Senior guard Michele Molini added 13 points for the Knights with three 3-pointers while Trisha Benson collected 8 points and Catherine Sherwood 6.
Barrington, which came back from a 29-19 deficit and led 48-44 on a step-back 3-pointer by Angie Kirchoff (team-high 19 points) with 3:17 left, finished at 15-15.
The Fillies also received 11 points from Brooke Gunderson and 10 from Alexa Resch (10) points.
"I'm really proud of my kids," said Barrington coach Babbi Barreiro. "They never gave up, especially in the second half."
Prospect led 34-26 but Barrington closed out the third quarter with a 9-0 run, sparked by a 3-pointer by Aoife Callanan.
"I'm really proud of Ashley Heine," said Barreiro, whose team led 35-34 after three quarters. "Taylor Will is an awfully good player and I thought Ashley played well against her. Angie Kirchoff really came to play and Brooke Gunderson made some big baskets, too."
Gunderson's 3-pointer got Barrington to within 54-53 but Will's 2 free throws with 31.2 seconds gave the Knights a 56-53 advantage.
Two free throws by Kirchoff made it 56-55 and the Fillies got the ball back with a chance for the lead. However, the Knights' defense came up with a big stop prior to Pacini's big free throw.
"I've got to give Barrington credit," Graham said. "I've never seen so many defenses thrown at us in one game. We saw a 1-1-3, a 3-2, a man-to-man and a press. And for the most part we handled them all pretty well."
Barreiro, the dean of Mid-Suburban League coaches in her 20th season, credited Graham.
"I thought Ashley did a real good job with those kids in her first season as head coach," Barreiro said. "I certainly wish them the best.
"We've had pretty much the same pattern all season where we haven't been as intense in the first half. We had chances but we didn't capitalize. It's a team game and I thought our kids played like a team. Hopefully all our kids learned how to function as a team and what it takes for the future."