Timothy Christian falls just short
It just felt right.
It felt like the momentum had swung completely in Timothy Christian's direction entering the fourth quarter Monday night against DePaul Prep.
Junior Sureya Alex and freshman Grace Roland canned 3-pointers in the final minute of the third quarter to cut their girls basketball team's deficit to just 41-40.
It felt like the Trojans were about to hit on something special. And yet ...
It just didn't happen.
Timothy Christian ended up dropping a tough 53-51 decision to the Rams in an IHSA Class 2A sectional semifinal in a stifling hot Chicago Orr gym.
Junior Hannah Schuringa had a huge night, scoring 22 and adding 13 rebounds, 6 on the offensive end. Roland finished with 13 points and 8 boards, while Alex chipped in 7 points.
"We battled well, but frankly, we had too many turnovers," Trojans coach Jill Groenewold said. "They did a nice job defensively on us, stopping our posts. Missed a few shots on the outside that I would have liked, but we didn't rebound well."
The closest Timothy Christian (23-8) got in the final eight minutes was that same 1-point deficit at the end of the third quarter -- 48-47 due to a Roland layup at 3:40; 50-49 thanks to another Roland layup with 52 seconds to go; and 52-51 with 13.2 seconds left by way of a Schuringa jumper from the free-throw line.
Groenewold called a full timeout after Schuringa's basket, and coming out of it, the Trojans immediately fouled DePaul Prep forward Avery Downes. She made 1 of 2 free throws, and that ended up setting the final score. The Trojans managed to get the ball past midcourt but turned it over as the buzzer sounded.
"They just couldn't miss a shot," Roland said. "No. 15 (Patricia Adams) couldn't miss her midrange jumpers. Obviously, it was a lot of pressure, and the games we played last week didn't have that pressure, so it was definitely a different type of game that we had last week."
Adams finished with 10 points, while Downes ended up with 15, including three 3-pointers, all in the first half, which staked the Rams to a 34-26 lead.
But the Trojans fought back hard in the third quarter and put together a 12-4 run of their own in the final 3:56, including Alex and Roland's 3s.
It wasn't quite enough, but if there is a silver lining, Timothy Christian only loses three players to graduation -- and they pick up junior center Greta Hoogstra, who suffered a season-ending injury a couple of weeks ago, and junior forward Campbell Marshall, who was sick.
"That will be great to have Greta back, especially for me, obviously, as a post," Roland said. "I think next year, we'll have so much motivation to want to win."
There was also a little humor in this contest, thanks to the heat in the gym. It was hot -- darn hot, conservatively in the mid-80s. Maybe higher. Probably.
"Honestly, for me, it was better for me when I was running up and down," Schuringa said. "It felt better because there was wind in your face. It was really bad, but every player out there was in the same position."