Fans of the swift Mustang got their wish on Tuesday night.
And after those Rolling Meadows Mustangs ran away from Lake Zurich in the opening game of the Rolling Meadows regional, the Mustangs of Mundelein met Grayslake and North played, if nothing else, a bizarre yet wonderfully exciting contest.
After North outscored Mundelein 15-4 in the third quarter it looked to be the night of the Knights. Instead, Mundelein’s Mustangs put on a defensive show, forcing turnover after turnover. North scored one basket in the entire fourth quarter and fell to Mundelein 41-38.
So it will be a battle of Mustangs come Thursday night. Game time for the regional title match in Rolling Meadow is 7 p.m.
Now, how could the Knights storm ahead of the Mustangs in the third quarter only to see Mundelein rally to do the same thing to North in the final quarter? Mundelein (20-8) won the fourth quarter 13-2.
“In that fourth quarter, we limited their shooters,’’ said Mundelein coach Brian Evans. “They might have helped us by holding the ball but we still threw the ball away in the end.”
Lauren Rouse opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer.
“We got off to a deficit in that third quarter but got back with our great defense,’’ Rouse said. “And my teammates helped me with everything I did.”
Still, when Kendall Detweiler (14 points) scored on a tough left-handed layup, the North lead was 38-33 with less than three minutes to play. No one guessed at the time that would be the Knights’ (20-10) last score of the season.
Jamie Hemmer (12 points) pulled the Mustangs to within a single point when she drove to the hoop with less than two minutes to play. With under a minute to play, Maggie Mahar (7 points) scored, giving her team its first lead since the second quarter.
“There was a lot of turnovers in that fourth quarter,’’ Mahar said.
Mahar scored 5 of her points in a 30-second span of the second quarter. After her 3-pointer landed, her drive helped Mundelein open a 24-17 lead.
However, Maggie Fish, North’s promising guard, answered back for the Knights with a pair of scores. Mundelein led at the break, 24-21.
If it wasn’t for the offense of Hemmer, Mundelein might have found itself shut out in the third quarter. Hemmer had the lone field goal of the quarter for her team and added a pair of free throws.
In the meantime, North was breezing. Fish’s steal and bucket gave the Knights its first lead of the second half. Detweiler’s score at the two-minute mark gave her Knights a 9-point lead at 36-27.
Clearly, the top-seeded Mustangs of Rolling Meadows will be favored come Thursday. However, the Mustangs of Mundelein won’t back down easily.
“We’ll be ready,’’ Rouse said.
Mahar likes the way her team embraces the challenge.
“We will have nothing to lose,’’ she said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work.
“We really compete hard with each other.”