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Charged up like no one else to start Wednesday night's first-place showdown against North Chicago, Antioch point guard Ashley Reiser finished the game, appropriately enough, by taking a charge.
With North Chicago trailing by two points, Warhawks 6-foot sophomore Tinee'sha Coleman came barreling into the lane. Reiser stepped into the paint to meet her and drew the foul with 7.4 seconds on the clock.
Paige Gallimore then hit 2 free throws with 3.8 seconds to go, and Antioch held on for a 58-54 win on its home court.
"I knew I couldn't foul because they would have been shooting free throws and they're a pretty decent free-throw-shooting team," Reiser said. "I knew I had to step up and take the charge."
Reiser was in charge most of the night. The 5-foot-4 freshman rang up 14 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals, as Antioch (16-5, 6-1) took over sole possession of first place in the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division thanks to its second win in as many tries against North Chicago (12-7, 5-2), which saw its nine-game winning streak snapped.
"I think it's our speed and quickness," sophomore guard Alexis Duehr, who scored 6 points, said of what allows the Sequoits to match up well with the Warhawks.
"It was a big win," said Antioch coach Tim Borries, whose team visits two-time defending NSC Prairie champ Vernon Hills on Saturday. "As much as people want to say, 'Conference, conference, conference,' we're one step closer to that No. 1 seed in the (Class 3A sectional). That's what we told the girls from the get-go: Our goal is to get that No. 1 seed."
Antioch got off to a great start, as Reiser scored 6 points in the game's first 45 seconds. After scoring on an offensive rebound, she stole the ball near half-court and raced in for a layup. She then swiped the ball again and hit a jumper.
"It was awesome," Reiser said. "It felt great. It really got me pumped up and got the team pumped up. We worked really well as a team with passing and moving the ball. Everyone contributed to the win."
Added Duehr: "We always tell each other in the locker room before the game, 'If we start out well, we're going to play well.' "
Gallimore's 2 free throws made it 8-0, before North Chicago answered back with an 8-0 run of its own, and the Warhawks took a 14-9 lead into the second. It was a 24-24 game at halftime, but sparked by Amy Reiser's 7 points, including a 3, Antioch outscored North Chicago 18-9 in the third quarter.
"We were aggressive (in the third)," said Borries, whose Sequoits were forced to be patient most of the night against North Chicago's zone. "We attacked the basket."
Antioch's lead swelled to 51-42 midway through the fourth quarter. But the aggressive play of Coleman, who knocked down a 3-pointer, and Samantha Rodriguez helped rally the visitors.
After Duehr's free throw made it 56-54 with 14 seconds left, North Chicago hustled the ball into the frontcourt. When Ashley Reiser drew the charge on Coleman, the Sequoits had all but secured their third win in a row.
"On the last play, I was going to see if Tinee'sha was going to get to the basket," North Chicago coach Laurence Brown said. "I was going to call timeout if she didn't. I didn't expect her to run the girl over."
Despite missing nearly six minutes of the second half due to foul trouble, Gallimore led all scorers with 16 points (8 under her average). The only points the senior guard scored in the fourth were her 2 late free throws.
Antioch got big contributions off the bench from Amy Reiser, who had 9 points and 3 steals, and Shannon Zogran, who hit a pair of 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 8 points.
"Paige was getting her points early, but good teams will shut her down," Borries said. "Other people have to step up, and that's what we did."
Coleman led North Chicago with 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Kylah Collins added 12 points and 9 boards. Despite being ill, Zion-Benton transfer Rodriguez had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals. She had a chance to tie the game with a three-point play with 30.2 seconds left but missed the free throw.
"She said she was sick before she got here and was sick all week," Brown said. "I guess it showed tonight because that wasn't the Samantha that was playing the last nine games."