Bergstrom's free throws lift St. Viator over St. Francis
Despite trailing 25-13, St. Francis' girls basketball team came out like a new team to start the second half.
"You've got to credit them for coming out and really punching us out (20-4 advantage) in that third quarter," said St. Viator coach Jason Raymond.
Fortunately for St. Viator, it was Joy Bergstrom who provided the decisive knockout punch with 1.8 seconds left in Saturday's nonconference game in Arlington Heights.
The sophomore guard (game-high 20 points) hit a pair of free throws that produced the final margin in the Lions' 41-39 triumph at Cahill Gymnasium.
The Spartans (10-9) called time out and then ran a well-executed play in which they made a nice pass over the half-court line to set up a 24-foot 3-pointer that missed.
"We definitely can't let down like that in the third quarter," Bergstrom said. "We have to keep our momentum the entire half. But we did have the spark at the end to finish strong."
The Spartans' big 20-4 third-quarter run included a 3-pointer by sophomore Katie Anne De Craene that gave the visitors their first lead at 30-28 with 1:49 left in the period.
They led by as many as 8 points when senior Ashley Sullivan hit a 3-pointer to make it 37-29 with 5:35 left in the game.
But the Lions (7-9) answered with an 8-0 run, sparked by Bergstrom's 14-foot fadeaway, 17-footer and fastbreak layup. Nora Ahram added a driving layup.
The score was tied at 37, 39 and 41. Bergstrom's layup while falling to the ground made it 41-41 with 56 seconds left.
The Spartans then had a 3-point attempt go in and out and Keely McClellan came away with the rebound, allowing Raymond to call for a timeout with 38.4 seconds left.
The Lions went into a delay game, and got the ball to Bergstrom with 10 seconds to go.
"We wanted to stall it down to the last shot," she said. ""My teammates were able to screen, get open for passes and find lanes to dribble. Everyone did their job."
After being fouled while driving on the right side of the free throw lane, Bergstrom did her job by converting two free throws for her 19th and 20th points of the game.
"We were trying to get the ball in her hands so she could create for herself or demand the attention to open things up for someone else," Raymond said. "We got the ball to the right person at the right time and it worked out for us."
Bergstrom also worked for 4 rebounds and 1 block while junior Kate Peterson added 9 points with 2 rebounds and a block. Junior Aubrey Horbach chipped in 7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
"We lost our composure in the third quarter," Raymond said "I think when we had the double-digit lead, our players kind of thought the game was over and you can't have that mentality. St. Francis is a tough team. They have some tough players."
Leading the Spartans were De Craene (11 points), junior Kate Chaparro (9) and junior Maggie Culver (6).
"I thought everyone stepped up and did a good job, especially in the second half," said St. Francis coach Sandy De Craene. "Anyone on the floor was helping us and that's what we need. We need a full bench so we can give our starters a break.
"I keep saying we're a younger team and we're trying to piece it all together. I'll tell you, we are getting closer and closer, and it's exciting to see that we are getting there."
Getting offense in third quarter was difficult for Viator which only produced a 3-pointer from Peterson and a free throw from Bergstrom.
"We struggled scoring and poor defense was probably worse than our offense at that point," Raymond said. "But to the girls' credit, they kept their composure in the fourth quarter and were able to recapture the momentum.
"We're a young team and having graduated some seniors who were the glue, we still need leadership. The next step for our maturation is to be able to extend a lead in the second half instead of losing it like we did. And that comes from maturity."