St. Viator upends Johnsburg to move on
Elise Horbach broke the dam and St. Viator flooded Johnsburg 51-35 in the girls basketball Class 3A sectional semifinal at Carmel in Mundelein Monday.
St. Viator (24-8), which has never won a girls sectional title, will go for the first in school history on Thursday when the Lions battle East Suburban Catholic Conference rival Carmel, which beat Marengo 62-56 in overtime in Monday's second semifinal.
St. Viator needed its best defensive effort of the season to even stay in the game in the first half when the Lions trailed 16-15 at the break.
The Lions were in a shooting drought where they converted just 5-of-25 and a miserable 1-of-15 from outside the arc. Fortunately for St. Viator, its defense was spectacular in the first half when it forced 19 turnovers from Johnsburg (19-12).
"Bad shooting in the first half," St. Viator coach Jason Raymond said. "I told the girls that defense never slumps. You have to play defense and that allowed us to play through those bad minutes in the first half."
After another missed 3-pointer to begin the second half, Horbach broke the levee. The senior drilled a 3 from the corner right in front of the Viator bench and the whole team exhaled all at once.
"Shots were just not falling for us," Horbach said. "Our defense kept us in it. After I hit my shot, I like to think it was the basket we were shooting at. The other was not good."
Horbach's teammates showed that they may agree with her assessment. They matched their entire first output of field goals over the next 3 minutes with Horbach and Joy Bergstrom each putting down a 3-pointer as the Lions opened up a 28-20 advantage.
"We talked about our offense in the first half, but couldn't get anything going, " said Bergstrom, who led the Lions with 14 points.
"Once we hit a couple of shots, it just kept going and going."
The Lions converted 6-of-7 shots from outside the arc with Horbach hitting 3 and Bergstrom, Nora Ahram and Natalie Krause also connecting as St. Viator built a 38-27 lead after three quarters.
The Lions didn't slow down on the defensive end, as they forced 4 turnovers to begin the final quarter. That led to a 9-0 run and the Lions were on their way with a commanding 47-27 lead. At that point in the game, Johnsburg had 29 turnovers.
"I think we were busting on defense and getting the 50-50 balls," Ahram said. "We really played team defense. That's what we like to do."
The Lions finished the game shooting 38 percent from the field (18-of-48) and 31 percent (8-of-26) from outside the arc.
St. Viator was led by Horbach and Ahram. who each had 9 points, while Krause and Emma Morissey and Bridget DeZellar each chipped in 6 points.
"It was the law of averages for us offensively," Raymond said. "This is a tough, gritty group. They practice hard. That's just the way they go. It is high intensity. They bring it every day."
Raymond said he and his team can't wait until Thursday.
"We are super excited to be playing," Raymond said. "We hope the law of averages is there as well."