Girls basketball: Barrington wins, will meet Stevenson for Class 4A championship
NORMAL -- Barrington junior guard Sophie Swanson was unstoppable on Friday.
Early in the season, Swanson quickly established herself as one of the fastest-rising recruits in the Midwest.
She wrapped up her recruiting by committing to Purdue.
Now, after an unprecedented run through the Class 4A state playoffs, Swanson is one game away from leading Barrington to the ultimate prize -- a state championship.
Swanson poured in a game-high 35 points to help the Fillies survive a late comeback by Bolingbrook, pulling out a 64-55 win in a Class 4A state semifinal at Redbird Arena.
The Fillies (30-5) advance to their first state title game in program history, playing Stevenson for the third time this season in Saturday's 7:15 p.m. final.
Swanson was dazzling on the big stage, shooting 50% from the field (12-for-24) and grabbing 10 rebounds. She shot 5-for-11 on 3-pointers and scored nine straight points to open the fourth quarter.
"It's been a very exciting junior year, especially with all the history we've made as a team," Swanson said. "It's all very exciting and surreal."
Swanson said beating the No. 1-ranked Patriots (35-2) would be the ideal capper to a historic season. The Patriots defeated the Fillies 52-41 on Dec. 13 and 53-51 on Dec. 30 in the Dundee-Crown Komaromy Classic championship game.
"I definitely think no one really expected us to be in this position," Swanson said. "We came in as the underdogs, so this is really exciting for us. We just have to continue playing with a chip on our shoulders."
Barrington coach Babbi Barreiro admitted win No. 489 was a special moment in her distinguished 30-year career -- her first victory at the state tournament.
"This team has a great ability to play together and tough it out," Barreiro said. "We play a physical game, but the hustle and desire and the 50-50 balls often go our way because of how hard they work.
"Every year you dream about these kinds of things. These kids have been focused since day one. It shows how physical they play. Sophie is so dynamic and talented, so she's always leading our charge offensively, but she will tell you, she can't do it all alone."
Barrington sophomore guard Gwen Adler was sensational against the Raiders (24-6). Adler was near perfect from field, making her first seven shots to finish 7-for-8 to from the field and 6-for-7 on free throws to score 20 points to go with 11 rebounds. Swanson and Adler combined for 55 points to equal Bolingbrook's entire scoring total.
"We had great passing all the way around," Adler said. "We worked all week to know what to do against their defense. We knew they were going to overplay. We knew what to do in those situations."
Barreiro said Adler's do-it-all play was essential in Barrington's run to the state title game.
"Gwen does whatever we need, and comes up big in big moments," Barreiro said. "She's had some nice baskets tonight, good looks and great passes. Just a great game for her."
Barrington senior forward Laura Mahlum played solid all game, scoring 9 points and netting 8 rebounds. Her defensive charge with 39.1 seconds left helped stave off a late push by the Raiders.
"Our main thing was to just get the job done, so whoever was hot, just to get the ball to them," Mahlum said.
In the postgame news conference, Bolingbrook coach Chris Smith was amazed at the Swanson-Adler scoring tally.
"We knew Swanson was very active, but I don't think we did a good job defending her coming off screens," Smith said. "We had to do a better job of forcing her to give up the ball. We were also well aware of Adler. But we gave up 55 points to two players, and they only had three players score."
After relying on two big runs to seize leads of 38-24 and 50-34, the Fillies were on the brink of a blowout victory before the Raiders mounted a furious comeback. Bolingbrook trimmed the deficit to 54-51 but Swanson reeled off four straight points to give the Fillies a cushion. Adler secured the victory with a pair of defensive rebounds in the last 20.9 seconds.
"(Saturday) is a great matchup and they've got a fabulous coach and team," Barreiro said of Stevenson. "We're excited to be in this position, and excited to play Stevenson."