The third time was the right time for Conant's girls basketball team on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the Lake Forest Class 4A regional.
After losing a pair of Mid-Suburban West games to Barrington (40-39 and 49-36), the No. 10-seeded Cougars finally solved the No. 7 Fillies for a 45-44 triumph that put them into the championship game today against MSL champion and No. 2 Fremd at 7 p.m.
Trailing 44-41 with less than a minute, junior forward Katie Lomas (team-high 15 points) drove to the basket for a 3-point play to tie the game.
The Cougars (17-11) gained possession back with a turnover, and Nireet Dhillon was fouled.
The sophomore guard made the second of 2 free throws to give the Cougars the 45-44 lead with 8.4 seconds left.
Barrington missed a shot at the buzzer and Dhillon grabbed the rebound to secure the Cougars' victory.
"It was a well-played game," said Cougars coach Dan Travers. "We have a lot of respect for Barrington. After getting beat twice by them, we tried to do a few different things.
"Defensively, we were able to set the tone and we had a good team rebounding effort. Megan Talbot (12 points) stepped up big for them."
Dee Dee Durr and Lexi Zades each added 9 points for Conant while Sarah Mazurek and Dhillon each had 5.
"It came down to the last possession and we were able to get the 1 point," Travers said. "We hit some 3-pointers early to keep us in the game. I'm really proud of the girls.
We just found a way at the end. It was a whole team effort, the bench and everyone."
Conant led by as many as 10 points (20-10) in the second quarter.
"But Barrington came back at us," Travers said. "That's a credit to them. We knew they were a very good team and we had to come in prepared to play. We couldn't get down early (Cougars led 14-8 after one quarter)."
Lomas also had 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
"Katie did a great job scoring inside and outside," Travers said. "Sarah Mazurek did a great job defending. She sacrifices offense to play defense. She is the glue to our defense."
Travers also praised the defense of Danielle Engelbreit, Morgan Retzer and Durr. "And Haley Anderson gave us some good rebounding, especially in the second half."
Barrington (19-10) also received 9 points from Brooke Gunderson, 7 from Kelly Katis and 6 from Angie Kirchoff.
Hersey 64, Palatine 46: Freshman Claire Gritt made 7-of-10 shots from the field and scored a game-high 16 points for No. 4 Hersey (24-4), which advanced to Friday's championship of the Waukegan regional to face No. 12 Wheeling (14-15).
Maggie Berigan added 13 points with 7 rebounds while teammate Annie Korff tossed in 11 points with 8 rebounds.
Juliette Vainisi (three 3-pointers) and Morgan Harris (one 3-pointer) each chipped in 10 points.
Freshman Kelly Weyhrich handed out 6 assists with 3 steals.
Hersey defeated Wheeling twice during MSL East play 59-33 and 46-27.
"We haven't played them with a full team yet," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "We know how good they are when they have everyone."
Morgan Radtke led No. 13 Palatine (10-19) with 14 points followed by Monica Masini (12) and Erin Mayer (8).
Fremd 70, Lake Forest 20: Haley Gorecki (17 points with three 3-pointers), Brianna Lewis (10 points), Katie Zara (9) and Bryana Hopkins (9) were top scorers for MSL champion Fremd (25-3), which broke on top 20-2 after one quarter in the Class 4A semifinal game at Lake Forest.
The No. 2 Vikings will face No. 10 Conant for the championship today at 7 p.m. Fremd defeated Conant twice in the MSL West 56-40 and 45-34.