Aurora Central rallies past St. Edward in 4th quarter
Trailing St. Edward 40-32 early in the fourth quarter, Aurora Central Catholic girls basketball coach Levada Smith felt the time was right to try a different defensive strategy.
"All game we were trying to play a 1-2-2 (zone)," said Smith. "They started driving and kicking it up high for open shots so I kind of abandoned that and matched up full court. We started trapping."
The decision paid off, as the 8th-seeded Chargers (11-16) scored a season-high 25 points in the fourth quarter and rallied to a 55-48 victory over the 10th-seeded Green Wave (11-19) in Tuesday's Class 2A regional quarterfinals at Wheaton Academy.
With the win, ACC advances to Wednesday's semifinals against top-seeded Marengo (19-10).
"I didn't even know we scored 25 points (in the fourth quarter) until I looked up at the scoreboard," said Smith.
Down 44-40 with 3:10 remaining, the Chargers scored the next 6 points, taking a 46-44 lead on a layup by Vanessa Camp with 1:41 left.
After Madeline Ellsworth's layup tied the game at 46-46, Camp followed her own miss with a putback to give ACC a 48-46 lead with a minute remaining.
"We pressured them really hard and we were trapping them in the corners and getting those steals," said Camp, who scored a game-high 18 points with 5 rebounds.
From there, the Chargers closed out the game with a 7-2 run to seal the decision.
"We just pulled it out," said Camp. "I think the best thing is that we never give up. We're always working as a team -- it's never just one person."
Facing St. Edward's box-and-one defense in the second half, senior guard Delani Kosner added 6 of her 11 points down the stretch as the Chargers took the rubber game of their 3-games-in-17-days series against the Green Wave.
"We don't want to force the ball into her (Kosner) -- those are steals they're going to get so we kind of had to find a way with the rest of the girls on the court and work to get those baskets," said Camp.
Junior guard Lizzie Albert chipped in with 12 points off the bench while senior forward Catherine Klein added 9 rebounds and 8 points -- all of them coming in the final quarter.
"Those rebounds -- that's what she does very well," Smith said of Klein. "I think that helped us, especially in that fourth quarter.
ACC led 25-20 at halftime only to watch St. Edward go on a 10-0 run in the first 3 minutes of the third quarter, as Samantha Ottinger (18 points, 6 rebounds) connected on a pair of 3-pointers and sophomore guard Brooke Biggins (15 points, 4 assists) added 4 points.
The Green Wave carried a 37-30 lead into the final 8 minutes when ballhandling became an issue -- 7 of their 23 turnovers occurred in the fourth quarter.
"If we would have done a better job of keeping our composure down the stretch, it probably would have been a different outcome to the game," said St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson. "We kind of knew coming into it that it would be that kind of (tight) game. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite the ending we wanted."
Ellsworth added 6 points and 6 rebounds for the Green Wave.
"This group of girls never quit," said Dawson. "I'm proud of them."