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South Elgin senior Savanah Uveges has talked all season about how the Storm wins as a team.
Thursday night, Uveges' teammates proved just that.
With their four-year point guard relegated to the bench for the remainder of the first half when she picked up her second foul just over two minutes into the game, seniors Anna Tracy and Kennede Miller took charge, the Storm got valuable contributions from a number of other players and rolled to a 67-35 win over Streamwood in the championship game of the Class 4A Jacobs regional in Algonquin. The game was played in Jacobs' old, original gym as the school's athletic field house apparently had a roof leak, although a choral concert was held in the field house during the basketball game.
"I just told myself that this is my last regional and when Savanah went out us seniors just had to turn it up. We played together as a team," said Tracy, who finished with a game-high 21 points on 9 of 18 shooting that included 3 3-pointers.
The Storm (20-9) will take on Huntley (26-3) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Crystal Lake South sectional. Huntley, which beat South Elgin 52-46 in the Storm's season opener on Nov. 20, defeated Belvidere North 49-35 Thursday to win the Rockford Jefferson regional. Tuesday's second semifinal pits Rockford Boylan against the winner of Friday's Cary-Grove regional final between the host Trojans and Prairie Ridge.
Tracy, who also had 6 steals, hit a 3-pointer 54 seconds into Thursday's game and South Elgin, which beat Streamwood for the second time in three years in a regional final, never trailed. The Sabres (14-13) did tie the game twice in the first quarter but a Nadia Yang basket with 1:18 left in the first put the Storm ahead for good, 9-7.
South Elgin led 25-15 at halftime as Streamwood shot just 6 of 26 in the first half and finished the game 12 of 41.
"The key was defense," said South Elgin coach Tim Prendergast after his team's defensive pressure helped force 22 Streamwood turnovers. "Delaney Kelleher and Laura McIntosh came in and did a real nice job tonight. I knew we were more athletic and quicker and we got a couple turnovers early. I was just real happy with the way our defense was able to get out on their shooters."
With Uveges back on the floor in the second half, the Storm dominated. A Tracy basket made it a 35-23 game with 3:42 left in the third quarter and even though the Sabres cut the deficit to 7, 35-28, on a Cayla Hawkins 3-pointer with 2:27 left in the quarter, Tracy, who came into the game averaging just over 6 points per game, nailed a 3 a minute later, which sent the Storm on a 17-2 run that made it a 52-30 lead after a Miller 3-pointer with 5:58 to play.
"It's definitely a blow to us when Savanah goes out but Delaney stepped up big-time ... everybody stepped up big-time," said Miller, who scored 10 points and had 8 rebounds. "It was a goal for us to get this (win) but we have a lot of goals left and we're excited to be playing on Tuesday."
Freshman Mackie Kelleher finished with 10 points for the Storm and Uveges had 8 to go with 4 assists. Delaney Kelleher, McIntosh, Cara Fahey and Bridgette Williams each added 4 points off the bench.
"Anna was big and Kennede was big," said Prendergast, whose team made 28 of 67 shot attempts and had only 4 turnovers for the game.
"For our seniors to come out and play like that really lifts the whole team. When you have senior leadership like that from Anna and Kennede, it really helps."
Senior Hannah McGlone led Streamwood with 12 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks. She graduates as the only Streamwood basketball player, boys or girls, in school history to score 1,000 career points and grab 1,000 career rebounds.
"Hannah is the team leader and the most versatile post player I've ever coached," said Streamwood coach George Rosner. She's special and irreplaceable. We got one regional with her and we would have liked to have another one. We didn't go out playing our best game."