No meetings between the Vernon Hills Cougars and the Carmel Corsairs this year?
That’s because the players from these two teams know each quite well.
“We’ve been playing feeder basketball with Sydney (Smith) and Lauren (Webb) forever,” said Carmel guard Kathleen Felicelli. “We’ll watch film, but we know their moves.”
It’s Carmel and Vernon Hills for all the marbles — or the sectional title, at least — come Thursday (7 p.m.) at Ridgewood High School. Antioch (23-7) took exactly one lead on Monday night (2-0), and that was it. Carmel was in control most of the way and ended Antioch’s best season ever, winning the Class 3A sectional semifinal 59-46.
“We are peaking right now,” said Felicelli, who scored 13 points. “We really took it to them.”
After Antioch’s leading scorer, Paige Gallimore, scored the game’s first bucket, the Corsairs (23-8) went on a 12-0 run and never looked back. The Carmel lead hit as high as 24 points early in the fourth quarter.
Antioch coach Tim Borries pointed to the game’s first few minutes as the moment his team fell back.
“We missed our first few layups and three putbacks,’’ Borries said. “That set the tone. It was nerves. We haven’t been here in a long, long time. It was our inexperience, and they have a team of seniors.”
Leah Lach (15 points) drove to the hoop at the two-minute mark of the first quarter to help her team open up that 12-2 lead.
“Everyone was so pumped for this game,” Lach said. “We were ready to go through the roof. But we were also confident going in.”
The IHSA seeded Antioch second and the Corsairs third. It didn’t seem to matter for Carmel. Cassidy Kloss dominated the second quarter, as she scored 11 of her team-best 18 points. Carmel led 28-15 at the break.
If there was some good news for the young Sequoits it came in the fourth quarter. The 24-point Carmel lead was sliced nearly in half as the Sequoits rallied to cut the lead to 50-37.
“We didn’t stop playing and we nearly cut it to 10,” Borries said. “I feel sorry for the seniors, but every coach would like to be 23-7.”
Gallimore’s 22 points led all scorers.
Lach, too, has memories of that squad from Vernon Hills.
“They knocked us out when we were sophomores,” she said. “We are definitely out for revenge. They have been our biggest rival since the fifth grade. We are excited to play them.”