Batavia overcomes foul trouble, Glenbard West to advance to sectionals
Batavia didn't panic.
With leading scorer Brooke Carlson picking up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter, forcing her to the bench, the Bulldogs had two choices: Continue to let Glenbard West back into a game Batavia had led from the opening tipoff, or rally together.
The Bulldogs chose the latter.
Batavia doubled its nine-point lead in Carlson's absence and soared to an eventual 63-50 victory to win the Class 4A West Chicago Regional championship.
The victory gives the Bulldogs (20-11) the program's second consecutive regional title, the first time that has been accomplished in school history.
"I just knew I needed to cheer on my teammates," Carlson said of her mindset exiting a 37-28 game at the 4:44 mark of the third quarter. "I know if I'm not in the game, I trust my all of my teammates to get the job done. We had energy from the beginning of the game tonight and that was the biggest part. We kept it going from the bench to the court ... everyone contributed energy tonight."
When Carlson returned to action at the 5:56 mark of the fourth quarter, Batavia had grown its lead to 18, at 54-36 -- a 15-6 spurt in 6:48 of game action without its standout junior point guard. Carlson finished with a game-high 24 points.
Addie Prewitt had five of her nine points during that key stretch for the Bulldogs, including a bucket plus a foul to open an 11-2 run.
"Losing Brooke in that spot is a big thing, but I think we kept our composure and got our energy up," said Prewitt, who also finished with a game-high 11 rebounds. "I think especially defensively that energy was there."
Prewitt was tasked with guarding Glenbard West's Kennedy Brandt, who had a significant height advantage inside. The sophomore guard said she is always up for the challenge to guard whoever Batavia coach Kevin Jensen needs her to guard.
Jensen knew that if the Bulldogs took away Brandt, he liked his chances to keep his season going for at least one more game.
"I thought [Brandt] was a really tough matchup for us," Jensen said. "She's big and strong and plays well from the outside. We put Addie Prewitt on her knowing that she's strong enough if she's inside, and she's quick enough if she's outside. I think that charged her up a little bit, knowing she had that challenge tonight."
"I definitely embrace guarding the other team's best player," Prewitt added.
Brandt knocked down a couple of late 3-pointers, scoring all eight of her points in the fourth quarter during a comeback effort that fell short for the Hilltoppers (21-11).
Julia Benjamin finished with a team-high 10 points for Glenbard West.
Ava Thomas contributed big minutes in the victory for Batavia, as well, adding ten points and four rebounds.
Upon her return to action in the fourth quarter, Carlson knocked down 9-of-10 free-throw attempts to seal a third matchup of the season with DuKane Conference rival St. Charles North in Tuesday's 4A Glenbard West Sectional semifinals.
"We'll enjoy this one, and we need to rest up a little bit," Carlson said with a laugh. "We know it's going to be a physical battle [on Tuesday], but we know we need to bring that same energy and we'll be ready to go."
Carlson dropped a career-high 42 points in her last matchup against the North Stars, a 63-59 victory on Feb. 7.