Chicago Christian ousts Lisle
Lisle senior McKenzie Weaver already knew the disappointment of her team losing in the Class 2A girls basketball sectionals on its home floor.
Tuesday's result hurt even worse.
The Lions' hopes of capturing only the second sectional title in program history ended with a 56-40 loss to Chicago Christian in the Class 2A Lisle sectional semifinals. The 2017 Lions lost in the sectional final to Interstate Eight Conference rival Peotone.
"You never know how it's going to feel, playing your last game," Weaver said.
"I would see the other girls, the other seniors (before me), but you can't actually put it into words until you actually feel it. It sucks. It's hard. It definitely meant a lot more this year because I know none of us wanted our season to end because it's over."
Weaver had 13 points for the Lions (21-11), a No. 1 sub-sectional seed, and one of their three 3-pointers. Senior Caitlyn Webber had 7 points and sophomores Emma Rossin and Abby Casmer 6 points apiece.
The seniors have left quite a legacy -- two of the program's three regional titles, 20 wins two of the last three seasons and a 9-3 finish to this season that included a second-place finish in the Interstate Eight tournament as the No. 6 seed. Weaver, Webber and fellow senior starter Jordan Buchelt have been basketball teammates since fifth grade.
"The seniors have had a really good bond and friendship, which helps. We've created that with everyone else. I'm really excited to see what the girls are going to do next year," Webber said.
"We had a big crowd tonight and we usually don't have big crowds, so that was fun. Once we won regionals we were like, 'We want to go all of the way.' I mean, who doesn't?"
Lisle overcame 2-for-15 field-goal shooting in the first quarter to close to 15-13 early in the second quarter, but the No. 3-seeded Knights (23-9) responded with a 14-2 run and were ahead 29-14 at halftime.
When Webber hit a baseline basket and Weaver converted on a fastbreak on back-to-back possessions, the Lions closed to 37-28 with 5:30 left in the third quarter, but they didn't score the rest of the period.
"I was really proud. They came out and punched us in the mouth and we came back and responded," Lisle coach Nick Balaban said.
"I told these seniors you have done something that no other teams in Lisle history have done. And that's win two regional championships. They can't see that picture now, but when they step away and look back on their high school careers, they'll know they did some special things."
Chicago Christian received all of its points from four players -- senior Deja Claybrooks, 6-foor-1 junior Kelsey Wolterink, its only non-senior starter, and seniors Chloe Schaafsma and Janay Turner.
The Knights harassed Lisle perimeter shooters with a 3-2 zone defense and dominated the boards. In the first half they combined 13-for-30 shooting with 14 offensive rebounds, 6 of them resulting in putback baskets. Three of those came on consecutive possessions as part of the 14-2 second-quarter run, in which the Knights scored on six consecutive possessions overall.
"We knew the rebounding was going to be a key, but they were just better than us tonight," Balaban said.
"They were bigger, faster, stronger, more physical, rebounded well. We just didn't have an answer for that tonight. I thought the last few weeks we were playing more physical and aggressive than we have all year, but tonight they beat us to the ball, they beat us down the floor."
The Knights, playing in sectionals for the first time since 2010, are riding an 11-game winning streak that includes 4-point victories over both IC Catholic Prep and Wheaton Academy. Chicago Christian plays Catalyst/Maria (23-5) for the sectional title Thursday.
"Playing team basketball (is the key). We were having some team chemistry problems through Christmas. We changed some things and ever since then we've been off and running," Chicago Christian coach Karl Frixen said. "There's times where we really struggle offensively, but we rely on our defense to pull us through. Through the last 11, 12 games (Wolterink) has been averaging a double-double."