High school basketball games are 32 minutes long. However, Monday's Class 4A Bolingbrook regional game between Waubonsie Valley and East Aurora was decided in a matter of seconds.
Waubonsie Valley ran off 6 unanswered points in less than a half-minute midway through the fourth quarter to grab a 10-point lead, then held on after the Tomcats closed to within 3 on a pair of late 3-pointers to advance to a regional semifinal Tuesday with a 49-46 victory
"This was very important because last year we didn't win our first game in regional," Waubonsie Valley junior guard Iwiyisis Osaghae said. "We wanted to win this game today so we can move on to the next level. We're happy were going on to the next level."
The 17th-seeded Warriors (10-15) were nursing a 37-33 lead with just under five minutes remaining when freshman Mykah Berkompas scored on a baseline drive to extend the lead to 39-33.
Consecutive steals of East Aurora inbounds passes by Osaghae and freshman Lauren McKnight led to layups that pushed the lead to 43-33.
"That spurt of playing 100 percent defense and doing the things we practice … getting after the ball, anticipating, jumping the pass, things like that … that gave us the chance to win," Waubonsie Valley coach Brett Love said.
"They're starting to trust the process," the coach added. "It's great that they're able to do that at such a young age."
East Aurora (12-15), the 15th seed in the Neuqua Valley sectional, trailed 6-0 early and did not take its first lead until late in the third quarter on a fastbreak basket by sophomore Tatiana Ocasio off a steal and assist by fellow sophomore Alasha Moore.
But Waubonsie Valley's 5-foot-10 sophomore Ahniya Melton answered from the right wing just a few seconds later as part of a 5-0 run to close the quarter.
Trailing 45-36 with 2:19 to play, the Tomcats got back-to-back 3-pointers from senior guard Celeste Rios and Moore to close to within 45-42 with 1:37 remaining. But Osaghae scored twice in a 25-second span to stymie the East Aurora rally.
"We waited too late to play," East Aurora coach Lee Clayborn said. "The girls prepared for this, they wanted it. (Waubonsie Valley was) just a better team tonight."
Osaghae led Waubonsie Valley with 13 points, McKnight added 12 points and Melton had 10. Six-foot-1 sophomore Grace Setter battled foul trouble and finished with just a basket.
"It's a learning process," Osaghae said. "We have to understand that when you lose, you have to try to come together and do what's good so we can win more games for each other."
Moore paced East Aurora with 14 points and Rios added 8, but 5-10 sophomore center Barakat Adekola had trouble around the basket against the taller Warriors and finished with just 5 points.
"This is their first time getting regional and playoff experience," Clayborn said. "Sometimes the moment is too big for them as sophomores. You wish they would mature in that situation, but as youth they have to learn from it."