Bolingbrook ends Lake Park's historic season with a loss
NORMAL -- The best season in Lake Park girls basketball history didn't end the way the Lancers wanted, but at least it ended where and when they wanted.
Bolingbrook rallied in the second half to take a 63-57 victory from Lake Park in the Class 4A third-place game at Redbird Arena on Saturday night.
"It's a historic year for us and I feel like at some point we can enjoy it," Lancers coach Brian Rupp said. "Obviously, we wanted to come out with a third-place trophy, but what these girls have done this year has been remarkable.
"I don't think anyone could have predicted the run that we were on in this playoff. But it's amazing what happens when you get a little bit of belief in each other."
The Lancers (26-10) were full of belief in the first half, using a 10-point second-quarter run to pull ahead. They led 33-24 at halftime, then senior Darrione Rogers made it a 12-point advantage with a three-point play to start the third quarter.
"Just going into the locker room we were all excited and happy," said sophomore point guard Sara Balli, who scored 15 points in the game. "We had the lead. We were all feeding off each other's energy. It was fun. We just knew we had to come into the second half strong. It didn't happen, but we knew we had to play through it."
"We kept saying throughout the season actually, build the lead, don't keep it," added freshman guard Gabi Burgess, her left shoulder packed in ice after a Bolingbrook player fell on her. "So we knew that we had to come back and fight. But Bolingbrook came out harder and we tried our hardest to get back on defense. We were going for every loose ball. They were scrappier than us."
Bolingbrook (26-8) resolved at halftime to play with more intensity in the second half.
"I think at halftime we made an adjustment as a team to say that everything would start with effort," Bolingbrook coach Chris Smith said. "Effort and defensive intensity changed the second half when the young ladies made up their mind that they was not going to lose this game. And I think you saw a much better effort from five individuals at one time."
By the end of the third quarter, the Raiders were within 5 points. They tied the game at 53 on a Danyel Middleton 3-pointer with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter, then took the lead for good 20 seconds later on another 3 by the Marquette recruit.
Lake Park worked to catch up, but Bolingbrook, with LSU recruit Treasure Thompson and NIU recruit Jayden Marable on the court, had too much talent.
"Our goal was always to get downstate and not only get down here but compete for a state championship. When that didn't happen it took a while to get that out of your system," Smith said.
Bolingbrook made 15 of 31 second-half shots after just 10 of 28 in the first half.
"I think what happened in our second half was I don't think they missed many shots," Rupp said. "Luckily they weren't 3-pointers when they started hitting because it would have been out of hand real quick. But they were just hitting and knocking down those shots, and a lot of those were challenged too. It's hard to start catching up when they start hitting shots."
Middleton and De'Ahna Richardson scored 14 apiece for Bolingbrook, and Marable added 11.
Rogers, a two-time first-team all-state player who will play next season at DePaul, scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in her final Lake Park game.
"As a competitor it's heartbreaking," she said of the loss. "Especially this being my last year here. I feel like me being the captain I am I feel like I could have stepped up and made big-time plays. I should have made more shots than I did. But at the end of the day I'm blessed and I'm thankful that we got this opportunity to be here and these young girls get to carry it over for future years."