St. Francis gets the job done vs. Wheaton Academy
In a sloppy game St. Francis found a way to oust archrival Wheaton Academy and end its girls basketball season on Monday night.
The Spartans didn't deliver the knockout punch in the third quarter but finally pulled away late in the fourth quarter in a 44-32 victory during a Class 3A Kaneland regional quarterfinal.
And what do the Spartans get for their effort? Undefeated Sandwich (30-0) in Tuesday's semifinal.
"We don't know much about them because we haven't seen them play," Spartans coach Sandy DeCraene said. "They're not in our conference or play anybody that we play, at least that I know of."
Wheaton Academy (9-17) led only once at 7-5 on senior Analise Richcreek's free throws in the final minute of the first quarter.
St. Francis (12-19) led 20-11 at halftime as Ashley Sullivan drained three 3-pointers while the Warriors were held to just 3 field goals.
"We struggled with our layups in the first half," Warriors coach Erin Carwell said. "We've been living and dying with our shooting percentage this season."
Back-to-back baskets by Richcreek and another inside from Isabele Southard keyed a 6-0 run that pulled the Spartans to within 30-26 midway through the fourth quarter, but freshman Katie DeCraene answered the other way with a 3-pointer.
The Spartans didn't get within 5 points the rest of the evening.
"She has to do more of that because it will free up Chap (Katelin Chaparro) for her drive and Ashley (Sullivan) for her shot," Sandy DeCraene said. "It will free up a lot of things. If she can find her shot, it opens up the doors to a lot of other people and she had got to realize that."
A three-point play from Chaparro with a minute left sealed the victory, making it a 41-30 game.
"It was definitely a sloppy game, but I think towards the end there we started putting it together," she said. "We were not letting them get ahead of us so we had a little bit of confidence."
Winning of four of their last five, the Spartans also beat the Warriors 45-32 on Jan. 26.
"We got a little sloppy with the dribbling and were catching and dribbling instead of catching and squaring up and working the ball around," Sandy DeCraene said. "We have to do a better job (on Tuesday) of finding our shooters and secondary rebounds."
While the Warriors turn in their uniforms, including Richcreek and fellow senior Natalie Rehfeld, the rest of the team should be back next winter.
"We're a young team so we're excited for what's coming up in the future," Carwell said. "We matched them up man-to-man in the second half, which was a great adjustment for us, but again, it's been our shooting this season."
Jerilyn Blackmon led the Warriors with 11 points while Imani Hillmer had 9 points and 12 rebounds.