Elk Grove coach Jennifer Buxton probably isn't a bracket guru when it comes to March Madness, but she knows a thing or two about the tournament.
On Tuesday Buxton told her team that No. 12 seeds have upset No. 5 seeds just about every year in the popular NCAA Tournament.
Chalk up another upset for a No. 12 seed as Buxton's Grenadiers beat Lake Park 54-47 in a Class 4A DeKalb regional semifinal.
They will play Wheaton North at 7 p.m. Thursday for a regional title.
"We had a lot of confidence in that we don't think we've reached our potential throughout the year," Buxton said. "I really congratulate the girls for putting all four quarters together. I told them that the 12-5 seed is one of the biggest upset seeds in the NCAA and that they could do it. I wanted them to play with confidence, not soft, and they came out really confident."
Elk Grove (14-13) started out strong, getting the ball inside to Zoe Blomquist for back-to-back three-point plays midway in the first quarter and then long-range 3-pointers from Blomquist and Megan Murray late in the quarter for a 20-8 lead.
Lake Park (18-10) outscored the Grens in the final three quarters but never tied or retook the lead.
"I felt like we couldn't get any traction on anything we tried to do defensively," Lancers coach Brian Rupp said. "I think we had momentum certainly shifting our way when we clawed back, but you just can't trade points at that time, and that's part of the reason we lost too."
Freshman Isabella Tierney's 3-pointer gave Elk Grove Village its biggest lead at 29-14 with 3:10 left in the first half, but a 9-2 run from the Lancers to close it, gave them confidence heading into the second half.
It also resulted in sophomore Darrione Rogers looking to do more offensively from long distance.
After scoring 11 points in the first half inside and at the free-throw line, Rogers rallied the Lancers with four 3s in the second half.
Her final 3 came with 2:35 left and pulled the Lancers to within 47-45. They couldn't get any closer. Rogers finished her team's scoring with a putback with 1:20 remaining to make the score 50-47. She finished with a game-high 23 points.
"We knew the game plan was to shut down (Rogers and Carson Vance) so we switched up our defense so we could get on their shooters," Elk Grove junior Rachel Kandefer said. "After the strong start we made sure to not give up."
Kandefer and senior Zoe Blomquist collected 14 and 12 rebounds, respectively. Murray led the Grens with 23 points, Tierney had 14 and Blomquist chipped in with 11.
"We just kept pushing because we knew who we were playing," Murray said. "We didn't come in scared. We knew we couldn't play frantic and had to be confident and that's what we did."
It was a rough ending especially for Lake Park's seniors, including a 1,000-point scorer in Vance, who finished her final game with 9 points and 9 rebounds, and Daina Riser, who had 12 rebounds.
"You can go down our list of six seniors and they all played a role," Rupp said. "We're going to miss them, but we've got some younger girls and Darrione is going to only get better. She's a tough kid that wants to get better at whatever she does."