West Aurora edges St. Charles East in double OT
You can't always tell when a game is going from a good one to a barnburner.
That certainly happened to West Aurora and St. Charles East on Monday at Wheaton North's Bill Neibch Falcon Classic.
With a 16-point lead going to the fourth quarter, the Blackhawks looked well on their way to an opening round win.
St. Charles East had other ideas. A 3-pointer from junior Makenna Brown with :15 seconds remaining capped a spirited comeback and tied the game at 48, sending the teams to overtime.
Turns out they were only getting started. This time it was the Blackhawks who rallied. Isabelle Lambert sank a game-tying 3 with :10 left. Brown just about won the game for the Saints but her jumper rimmed off at the buzzer as the teams headed to a second overtime.
Again St. Charles East took a lead and again West Aurora fought back. Junior guard Jalyssa Carrasco scored 4 points and assisted on another basket in the final two minutes for a wild 67-64 win.
"We needed to regroup mentally because we didn't want them to keep getting that momentum," Carrasco said of the Saints wiping out West Aurora's 41-25 lead after three quarters. "They were making shot after shot and we had to pick it up on defense."
No. 2 seed West Aurora (10-1) will play Glenbard South at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals.
Carrasco and Lambert both scored 22 points and Abigail Kuhn added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Blackhawks, who are playing without starters Riley Mont (stress fracture, out three weeks) and Olivia Vanderwoude (ankle).
"Other people had to step up in roles they weren't accustomed to," Blackhawks coach Teressa Waldinger said, mentioning freshman guard Bibi Mercado who was called up from the JV and played 23 minutes.
"Jalyssa was performing at the top of her game. We couldn't take her out. She's a leader on the floor. She does it all. She's very focused and has great court IQ. We trust her."
West Aurora's 12-0 run in the third quarter expanded a 4-point halftime lead to 41-25. The Saints fought back in the fourth quarter with their full-court pressure. Emma Yakey's 3-pointer pulled the Saints within 44-43, and Brown's 2 free throws tied the score at 45 with 1:44 to go.
After Carrasco's step-back 3 put the Blackhawks up 48-45, Brown's 3-pointer from the top of the key sent the game to the first overtime.
A layup by Torrie Kortan gave the Saints a 54-50 lead with a minute to go in OT. But Lambert's conventional 3-point play made it 54-53, and after Brown's 2 free throws put the Saints back up 56-53, Lambert again came through with a 3-point basket to force a second overtime.
"That was so clutch," Carrasco said. "We really needed that."
Then it was Carrasco's turn to deliver clutch plays. Trailing 60-58, her floater tied the game. Down 63-60, Carrasco found Alaysia Stewart open for a lay-in, the Saints turned the ball over, and Carrasco drove left and finished off the backboard to put her team up 64-63 with :26 remaining.
A steal by Mercado led to two free throws by Carrasco and a 3-point lead. The Blackhawks fouled with :4.8 left, denying the Saints another last-second, game-tying 3-pointer and third OT.
St. Charles East (5-10) will play Palatine at 9 a.m. Thursday. Kortan scored 16 points, Yakey had 15, Elle McCaslin 11 and Brown 10.
"We came back and fought," Saints coach Aubree Schuett said. "There were so many different learning opportunities that were available in that game. And those are things you can't recreate in practice. I think that's what the holiday break is for is to put yourself in those situations to compete with those teams and see what you can make out of it."