Kortan, Yakey lead St. Charles East to victory
Torrie Kortan could not escape the pressure of the moment.
Marching to the free-throw line against Wheaton Warrenville South with 8.6 seconds remaining, Kortan could ill-afford to miss the front end of the bonus.
The Saints' one-time double-digit lead had shrunk to a mere 2 points.
But Kortan calmly sank both ends and the Saints managed one last defensive stop on the ensuing moment.
The Saints escaped Wheaton Saturday afternoon with a 42-38 DuKane Conference girls basketball win.
"It was scary, but I have been in that situation before," said Kortan, a three-year starting junior guard for the Saints who finished with 11 points. "Sometimes we have missed and it cost us the game."
Kortan had the final points of the third quarter to give the Saints a 36-30 lead entering the last eight minutes of regulation.
The final quarter featured frenetic sequences in which each team had moments either to expand the lead or shrink the deficit.
The Tigers' Lily Huntzinger converted her only field goal of the game to reduce the Saints' lead, which had existed since the three-plus-minute mark of the opening quarter, to a single possession.
WW South (7-6, 4-6) would have four consecutive possessions to do further damage.
But St. Charles East (6-5, 6-4) never surrendered in forcing two turnovers and escaping an equal number of potential game-tying 3-pointers by WW South.
"(The game) was really fast paced," said WW South senior Katie Kroehnke, who hit two 3-pointers in leading the Tigers with 10 points. "It was going through my head, 'It's senior night; it would be great to get a win for us seniors.' We played our best."
Emma Showman (7 points) scored the final WW South field goal with a short jumper in the paint moments after the Saints squandered a chance for breathing space with a miss on the front end of the bonus.
But Kortan made amends by rimming her first attempt off the backboard into the net.
The Saints' Emma Yakey was the offensive star of the game.
In leading all players with 15 points, Yakey canned four 3-pointers.
The perimeter makes were all ultimately necessary as WW South coach Rob Kroehnke employed hockey-like substitution waves.
"I told the girls with (the Tigers') style of play -- patient on offense, patient on defense as well -- it really reduces the number of possessions in a game," first-year St. Charles East coach Michael Murphy said. "Every possession is magnified."
Showman also finished with 7 points for the Tigers.
WW South reserve Izzy Grutzmacher expressed the feelings of her fellow seniors on both squads as the truncated season approaches the finish line.
"I feel like it was special this year," Grutzmacher said. "We will get that sense of community that is special to (seniors). Nobody went through what we went through."