Glenbard South wins second straight sectional
ROCHELLE -- Playing for a sectional championship wasn't a new experience for most of Glenbard South's girls basketball players, including all of its starters.
That didn't mean the Raiders weren't nervous, but they overcame some jittery moments with a tremendous defensive effort to shut down Rock Falls 36-30 in Thursday's Class 3A Rochelle sectional championship game.
The game wasn't as close as the final score indicated. The Raiders led by double digits with three minutes remaining.
Glenbard South (22-7) advanced to Monday's supersectional against St. Viator at Elgin Community College at 7 p.m.
"Defensively, we did a really nice job," Raiders coach Morgan Kasperek said. "Lauren (Cohen) and Cat (Karr) and Rocky (LaPonte) put great pressure on their guards and disrupted their offense, and Maggie (Bair) does a nice job inside. We moved our feet. We got around. We were significantly able to disrupt their game."
Rock Falls (26-9) only had 5 baskets and was 3 of 6 from the free-throw line through three quarters.
Still, the Raiders hadn't completely put them away because of their own offensive struggles against Rock Falls' zone defense.
"We've seen that kind of pressure and practice it a lot," Raiders sophomore Iman Sellars said. "We stayed spread out and our coaches said to only get layups. They were double-teaming Maggie so we were able to find other openings."
The Raiders missed all 10 3-pointers they attempted in the first half but finally heated up to close the third-quarter with LaPonte connecting with 47 seconds left.
"It felt really good," LaPonte said. "We weren't making anything, but we were keeping patient and running our offense."
The Raiders got the ball back in the final seconds of the quarter, and Cohen buried a 3-pointer off of Karr's penetration and kickout pass for a 27-14 lead just before the buzzer.
"We got players making big plays," Bair said. "I'm amazed by everyone's play the last couple of games. We've got Kat coming in making big plays and Lauren stepping up, and they're just sophomores who are making big plays, which gives me a lot of confidence."
Bair's defensive presence was huge. The Rockets rarely challenged her inside and she made them pay on several occasions with 4 blocks and 5 steals. She also collected 15 rebounds and scored 13 points.
Her basket to open the fourth quarter gave the Raiders their biggest lead of the night at 29-14, but the Rockets made things somewhat interesting late, scoring 16 points in the final 3:27 after scoring just 14 prior to that.
"We're pretty good shooters, but they just got nervous," Kasperek said. "It happens. In a game like this if you can play that kind of defense it gives you confidence that you don't have to make everything. You don't have to do everything as long as you hold them."
The Raiders committed 21 turnovers, many in the fourth quarter, which the Rockets turned into points, including 12 off of four 3-pointers in the final 3:27.
"It doesn't matter how many times you've been in this situation, you're going to be nervous," Bair said. "This is my fourth year playing on this team and I was nervous. If you're not nervous something is wrong."
Nothing is seemingly wrong with the Raiders, who placed third in Class 3A last year and are a win away from another trip to state.