Ashley Graham could finally breathe a little easier.
The Prospect coach watched with great trepidation as the Knights' 17-point lead after three quarters dwindled to 2 late in the game.
But Prospect (10-3) withstood Evanston's valiant late rally and produced enough down the stretch to post a 56-51 semifinal win Saturday night to advance to the championship game of the 31st Annual Charger Classic hosted by Dundee-Crown.
The Knights will face New Trier, which defeated Mother McAuley 47-42 in the other semifinal, for the title at 8 p.m. Monday.
The Knights, who won the game at the free throw line by connecting on 32 of 48 shots, played nearly three quarters without junior forward Catherine Sherwood.
Sherwood, who suffered a head injury, is hoping to play in Monday's title game.
"I am so so proud of these girls," said Graham. "We overcame a lot of adversity with Catherine out for most of the game. It was a very physical game but we kept our poise."
After outscoring the Wildkits 17-6 in the third quarter, the Knights entered the fourth quarter with a 41-24 lead.
Led by 12 points from Dashae Schumate, which included two 3-pointers, Evanston (10-3) battled back and got to within 52-50 on a putback by Schumate with 55 seconds left.
But Evanston couldn't get any closer as Taylor Will connected on 4 free throws in the final 30 seconds to help the Knights preserve the win.
Will, who made 17 of 24 free throws, led Prospect with 28 points.
"It was a very very physical game," said Will. "We had to all step up when Catherine went out. They overplayed me so I was able to get to the basket and get fouled. It feels good to get to the championship game of this tournament. It is quite an honor."
Freshman Haley Will added 12 for the winners, which included a trey.
Schumate led the Wildkits with 22 points, which included four 3's. Fifteen of her points came in the second half.
"Our shot selection wasn't very good," said Evanston coach Elliott Whitefield. "We settled for too many perimeter shots. We didn't attack the basket very well. When we play like we are capable of, we can play with anybody. You can't play one good quarter and three bad quarters and expect to beat a good team like Prospect. We got too far behind."