Lake Park ready for the spotlight
Lake Park senior Darrione Rogers admitted to getting "a little emotional" at the final buzzer of Monday's Class 4A South Elgin girls basketball supersectional victory.
"I don't know why," Rogers, an AP first-team all-state player this season, said Tuesday. "But my eyes were getting a little watery. But I feel like it still hasn't hit me like, man, we're really going downstate. And I feel like that won't really hit me until Thursday when we have our little pep rally across the school and things like that. I think reality is going to hit and be like, yeah, we accomplished this. We're going to state."
Monday's 57-49 win against Dundee-Crown means a trip to Normal, with the team leaving Thursday for a 5:30 p.m. Friday semifinal against Mid-Suburban League champion Fremd.
"I think the best part about all of this stuff is we've just been enjoying the moment in every moment that we've been in," Lake Park coach Brian Rupp said after Tuesday's practice. "That's kind of what we say all the time in all of our meetings and stuff. Let's just be in the moment, and I think that's what's helped us push through the tough times in this playoffs."
Fremd (28-7) represents a step up in competition. The Vikings have been downstate four of the last six seasons, so they have experience on the Redbird Arena floor. They are an older group than the Lancers, who start freshmen Ellie Helm and Gabi Burgess, sophomore Sara Balli and junior Emma Thorne along with Rogers. The Vikings also go deeper into their bench.
The Vikings are led by senior guard Emily Klaczek, whom coach Dave Yates called the team's "heart and soul" because of her energy and intensity. Klaczek was voted to the AP all-state second team.
Grace LaBarge is a 6-3 junior forward who has several offers from Division I colleges. If the Vikings opt to use just one defender against Rogers, it could be 5-9 senior Caroline Cochrane.
"We put her on usually the toughest matchup and she's done a great job this year just taking other kids, better perimeter kids, out of games," Yates said.
Bolingbrook and Lincoln-Way West are matched up in the 7:15 p.m. Friday semifinal.
"We have tough teams ahead of us, but I think it's nothing that we haven't seen already from a competitive standpoint. Our girls, they're ready," Rogers said.
Lake Park (26-8) will have the best player on the floor, Rogers. They also will have a much-improved group whose season stats are misleading. Over the last six games three Lancers are averaging more than 14 points, and a fourth, freshman Ellie Helm, is averaging 9 points.
"And Emma's doing all the little things that Emma does. We're becoming a balanced team," said Rupp, who earlier in the day called Thorne "our Dennis Rodman."
The Lancers can't wait for the opportunity to show they belong.
"I'm excited. I'm excited. That's all I have to say about that. We're ready," Rogers said.