Carmel opens regional play with win over Zion-Benton
Carmel Catholic has struggled at the end of the regular season having lost 6 of its last 7 games. A lot a has been contributed to a tough schedule and playing in the rugged East Suburban Catholic Conference.
The Corsairs may have benefited from those losses and put together a strong effort in opening regional play on Tuesday night.
Eighth-seeded Carmel Catholic got past No. 9 Zion-Benton 58-39 in the girls basketball regional semifinals at Carmel in Mundelein.
Katie Lach led the Corsairs' scoring with 16 points and made three 3-pointers, Grace Sullivan added 14 points and 5 rebounds and Jordan Wood chipped in with 11 points and 5 boards. The Zee-Bees (16-13) were led by Morgan Callahan with a game-high 19 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots and Jayda Mills added 10 points.
Carmel (19-11) will next play top-seeded Hersey (25-7) in the regional final back at Carmel on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Huskies easily got past Waukegan 76-40 in the other semifinal.
For the Corsairs getting a complete game across the court was part of their game plan.
"Proud of the girls. We struggled win-loss wise at the end of the year," Carmel coach Ben Berg said. "But, we were in every game and I thought on both ends of the floor, we did a great job. Proud of our defense, we played a really good man-to-man in the first half and went to the zone to slow the pace down a bit. It worked in our favor."
Carmel jumped out to a 17-9 lead by the end of the opening quarter and increased the margin to 29-14 by the break.
"It was definitely one of our better games and we came out competitive from the start," Wood said. "We got a lot of rebounds and attacked the boards."
The Zee-Bees tried to push back in the third, but couldn't get closer than double-digits. Then Lach took over with her 3-pointers and Carmel extended the lead back out to 43-28 by the end of the quarter.
"Lately, my shot has been a little bit off," Lach said. "This gave me a little bit more fire and confidence. I'd say it was one of my better games. It was my second or third game back from a sore ankle."
Zion-Benton tried and tried to pull closer but the Corsairs' defense and their ability to score was much more than the Zee-Bees could handle.
"Talk about all their kids showing up on the same night," Zion-Benton coach Tanya Johnson said. "There wasn't anything I watched. I had watched hours of film to prepare for this game. Nothing I saw showed all of them showing up shooting like they did here tonight. So credit Carmel. We were stunned and we didn't quit."