After capturing their 20th win and a share of the division championship -- against the crosstown squad, no less -- Antioch's girls basketball team still had one obstacle in its path.
Coach Tim Borries stood between his players and their locker room following the Sequoits' 63-38 victory over visiting Lakes Friday night.
Borries hugged each of his players and assistant coaches. A wide smile never left his face.
Antioch (20-6) reached the 20-win mark for the first time this decade -- Borries came up empty in his research to find the last Antioch team to post that many victories -- and by finishing 10-2 in the North Suburban Prairie, the Sequoits earned a share of the division title with Vernon Hills.
"I'm not the huggy type of coach," Borries said. "I told them, 'You win the (division) and everybody will get a hug.'
"They deserved the hugs," he added, smiling. "They played well."
Since the NSC split into two divisions in 2000-01, Antioch had never won the NSC Prairie. By virtue of its sweep over the Sequoits, however, Vernon Hills will play in Wednesday's conference championship game.
It didn't seem to matter to Antioch, which didn't disappoint on senior night. Borries started all five of his seniors -- Paige Gallimore, Kristen Kelly, Sage Keyes, Tiffany Gantz and Hannah Bohn. Each player scored, with Gallimore scoring a game-high 19 points in addition to registering 9 rebounds and 3 assists.
Sequoits sophomore Alexis Duehr had what Borries called one of her best games of the season, totaling 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
"Twenty wins, division title and, of course, the crosstown rival -- awesome," said Keyes, who grabbed 8 rebounds and scored 4 points. "It's amazing. It's completely surreal."
"I'm happy for their seniors," said Lakes senior Sam Ney, who knows many of the Antioch players. "They've worked hard this season."
Ellie Haviland paced Lakes (5-22, 2-10) with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals, while Alexis Lee had 8 points and 8 boards. Natalie Pawlak and Ney added 7 and 6 points, respectively. Ney's long jumper opened the scoring, before Antioch scored the next 7 points. The Sequoits were up 14-8 after one quarter and 34-13 at the half.
"We just got outworked and out-hustled in the first half," said coach Pete Schneider, whose Eagles played without starting guard Kelsey Kohler (sprained ankle).
Borries emptied his bench in the first half, and his team was never threatened after halftime.
The coach could be especially proud considering the Sequoits were likely not anyone's preseason pick to win the division. Two-time defending champ Vernon Hills has finished second in the state the last two years, and North Chicago -- which Antioch swept this season -- picked up star guard Samantha Rodriguez from Zion-Benton. Both Vernon Hills and North Chicago also returned plenty of talent.
"I knew how good we could be," Borries said. "Look at our makeup."
While Gallimore averages 22-plus points per game, Borries also notes the contributions of freshman twins Amy and Ashley Reiser and sophomores Duehr and Kelly Johnson.
"We knew with the freshmen coming in, this would be a big season," Keyes said. "We had Alexis Duehr coming back and Paige, who last year had a killer season, we knew she would come out and do what she could to make this season really special."
It's far from over. The Sequoits, who conclude the regular season Tuesday against Lake Forest, own the No. 2 seed behind Vernon Hills in the Class 3A Ridgewood sectional.
"They're learning," Borries said of his younger players. "Earlier in the year we'd come out and we'd be sluggish. The last few games -- throw out the Vernon Hills game (55-29 loss) -- we're ready to play. That's the sign of a good team. We may be peaking at the right time."
While Lakes has had a down season, Ney is confident 2014-15 will be better. The Eagles have three freshman and the sophomore Haviland on their roster.
"They're young but they work really hard," Ney said. "Nobody gets jealous. They work their butts off. They're going to be great next year."