A dominant performance on the boards, physical play on defense and a huge game from senior Rory Manion all added up for top-seed regional host IC Catholic's girls basketball team in the Class 2A IC Catholic regional title game against Westminster Christian on Friday night in Elmhurst.
The Knights defended their home court with a 39-18 rebounding advantage in defeating the Warriors 61-33. IC Catholic (22-6), which won its first regional since 2008, advances to the Chicago Marine Military Academy sectional and will play Chicago Christ the King in the first semifinal game on Tuesday.
"It feels awesome," said Manion, who led the Knights to the state volleyball championship in the fall and had a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds Friday.
"This is my last game here, and I've been at IC Catholic since grade school. To play my last game on this court and win, it's such a great feeling."
Manion scored 6 of her points in the first quarter as the Knights jumped ahead for good at 14-10.
The Warriors (21-5) kept close most of the first half as sophomore Maddie Versluys (11 points, 6 rebounds) and senior McKaila Hays each scored 4 points in the opening frame, and senior Liz Meschewski scored 5 of her 7 points in the second quarter including a 3-pointer and a layup which had the visitors trailing just 25-17 with just over a minute remaining in the half.
The Knights pulled away at the end of the second quarter as sophomore Anjella Farmer (6 points) hit back-to-back buckets and freshman Tess Reardon hit a trey to cap first half scoring for a 32-17 lead at the break.
"We got pushed around all night," said Warriors coach Ken Flickinger. "We had a couple of our best players in foul trouble early which didn't help. We just didn't play our best game."
The physical play led to a combined 64 free-throw shots. The Knights shot 59.4 percent (22-of-37) and the Warriors 44.4 percent (12-of-27).
IC Catholic senior Abby Radoha (5 rebounds) scored 5 of her 9 points in the third quarter as the Knights increased their lead to 47-26. Senior Grace Vitek (5 points, 8 rebounds) and sophomores Chiara Gaudio (7 points) and Erin Maloney (6 points) added solid contributions.
"We wanted to be able to apply pressure and give them a different look," said Knights coach Aubree Schuett. "They have some quick players and some shooters, and we felt if we could put some pressure on them we'd be successful."
Senior Kinsley Donahue finished with 6 points for the Warriors who will graduate 8 of their 11 players. Despite the loss, Westminster Christian completed its third straight 20-plus win season including a pair of regional titles and a sectional title the past two years in Class 1A.
"Their accomplishments as a group are going to be pretty tough to beat," Flickinger said. "Almost 70 wins, a couple of regionals and a Sweet 16 berth. I'm really proud of them."