Harvest Christian's girls basketball team will be bringing some momentum into the start of postseason play next week.
The Lions (24-4), who placed fourth in the state in Class 1A last season, extended their winning streak to 8 with Tuesday night's 59-40 victory over nonconference foe Rosary in Aurora.
Winners of 17 of their last 18 games, the Lions begin Class 2A regional tournament action next Tuesday against either West Carroll or Morrison.
"I think we're playing our best basketball right now," said Harvest Christian coach Jeff Boldog.
Against Rosary, the game came down to the last 4 ½ minutes.
Tied at 40-40 with 4:33 left, the Lions took the lead for good at 42-40 on a runner in the paint by senior guard Alyssa Iverson -- the start of their 19-0 game-ending surge.
"We pressured them and we played really good defense," said Iverson, who finished with a game-high 20 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. "What brought us through was our defense and playing hard."
Backcourt mate Elena Porrata (8 points, 4 assists, 4 steals) added a scoop layup and a pair of free throws on the Lions' next 2 possessions to extend the margin to 46-40.
Isamar Garcia and Grace Ringel (16 points) also added baskets as the lead grew to 50-40.
Leading 25-22 at halftime, Harvest Christian entered the fourth quarter trailing 37-34.
"We were struggling to find ways and it was our team basketball concept that did it," said Boldog. "Our defense picked it up. We stopped them from reversing the ball and we took their threes away. The momentum turned our way.
"Our guards did a great job tonight of making good decisions with the ball -- driving when they should and kicking it when they should. That was a grind. They're a good team so it was a good win."
Addy Ringel scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Lions, who played without junior starting guards Gracie Ozburn and Jen Kasper (illnesses).
"We came out strong but we struggled throughout the game to keep that going," said Iverson. "We were a little short-handed today but no one gave up."
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Sydney Drozdowski (16 points, 9 rebounds) provided Rosary (14-9) with its largest lead of the night at 33-27 with 3:33 left in the third quarter.
Zoe Ketterman added 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Jenna Hernandez had 4 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
"I think in some ways we started getting worn down a little bit and they did a good job," said Royals coach Phil VanBogaert. "They've got a couple quick guards. We stuck with them most of the game but toward the end that's what was killing us. Their posts were getting nice shots inside but it was only because the guards were feeding them."
Harvest Christian forced Rosary into 7 fourth-quarter turnovers.
"They're starting to learn how to close these games out," said Boldog. "It's not just Alyssa (Iverson) -- everybody is stepping up and finding ways."