Wauconda falls to Deerfield
Wauconda's girls basketball season has gone beyond expectations, reaching 20 wins.
One more would've given the Bulldogs a regional championship, but you can't take away the team's hard work, dedication and success on the court this season.
Fourth-seeded Wauconda gave it their all in a 48-42 defeat to No. 5 Deerfield in the Class 3A regional final in Deerfield on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs ended their run at 20-7 and were on a four-game winning streak.
"We haven't had back-to-back 20-win seasons since the last time we won a regional," Wauconda coach Jaime Dennis said. "We're young and we should be back next year. Knowing what we lost from last year, if you had told me that we would win 20 games ... I thought we would be competitive, but they exceeded my expectations. They've grown as a group and they were really tight. They had to work on that consistency. They will be back next year."
On Thursday, Wauconda was down 20-13 after the opening quarter and trailed 25-23 at the break.
The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with 8 unanswered points after Mackenzie Arden made a pair of free throws of her game-high 16 points for a 31-25 lead with 5:48 left.
Deerfield (21-12) kept themselves in range and cut the lead down to two points by the end of the quarter on Olivia Kerndt's short jump shot of her 12 points, leaving Wauconda was up 37-35.
"(Deerfield) put on a lot of pressure and we're more of a run and gun type of team," Dennis said. "Their defensive pressure kind of threw us off and we had trouble running our offense. Their crowd started to get into it and it's a homecourt advantage."
The Warriors took over the lead in the final quarter and outscored the Bulldogs 13-5. Olivia Kerndt hit a key 3-pointer that put Deerfield up for good at 40-39 with 4:20 left. Wauconda didn't have an answer the rest of the way.
Lexi Friedman led Deerfield with 13 points and Dei Friedman added 12.
Ella Karg added 10 for the Bulldogs.
"I'm in shock and so excited," said Deerfield coach Danielle Hoveydai, whose team won its first regional championship since 2007. "I just wanted it so bad for these girls. We just had to stick with our plan the entire time and we needed to play great defense. We knew that Wauconda was a great offensive team and they have a lot of different threats. We knew our defense was what we had to hang our hat on. We have the girls committed to do it."
Deerfield moves on to play top-seeded Grayslake Central in the Crystal Lake South sectional next Tuesday at 6 p.m.