The biggest offensive play IC Catholic Prep made Monday night in the Class 2A girls basketball supersectional at Concordia University didn't even result in the ball crossing midcourt.
The Knights (25-6) led wire-to-wire and burned the final 7.3 seconds to stave off hard-charging Seton Academy during a 40-38 win that clinched a berth in the state semifinals Friday.
After a 3 from Alfantinee Boyd pulled Seton Academy (19-9) within 2 -- as close as it had been since the game was 2-0 -- ICCP senior Grace Vitek inbounded the ball from under her own basket coming out of a timeout. After the Sting failed to foul immediately, the Knights ping-ponged the ball between several players before it eventually ended up back in Vitek's hands as time expired.
"Typically, (Vitek) doesn't take the ball out of bounds," said Knights coach Aubree Schuett, whose team had some trouble inbounding the ball during the second half. "I switched it up … instead of running the set that they scouted."
Seton Academy and senior Ebony Bailey, who had a game-high 21 points, had chances, but IC Catholic made timely plays on both ends to answer every threat.
After Ebony's, sophomore Danielle Bailey's 3, made the game 34-30 with 6:36 remaining. Senior Rory Manion, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds, responded with back-to-back baskets from the post to push the lead back to 6.
"(Manion) got that look in her eyes," Schuett said. "I wanted them to move (the ball) … she had her (defenders) pinned and she said, ‘Give me the ball.' They gave it to her and she went in and made a nice move.
"Rory is a go-to (player)."
After the younger Bailey hit another 3 with 3:11 left to make the score 38-35, the teams traded empty possessions. Thanks to a defensive breakdown, Bailey had a wide-open look with 54 seconds left to tie it but couldn't convert.
Vitek, who finished with 10 points, was fouled intentionally with 39.9 seconds left and converted both free throws of a 1-and-1 to make the score 40-35. She missed the front end on the Knights' next trip.
IC Catholic mixed defenses effectively early to jump out to a 17-9 first-quarter lead. Ebony Bailey, who was able to penetrate effectively all game, had all 9 points for the Sting during the quarter on her way to 11 at halftime.
The Knights face Prophetstown, a 58-48 winner against El Paso-Gridely at the Monmouth supersectional, in the second semifinal game at Redbird Arena in Normal at 8:15 p.m. Friday.