RICHMOND – Every time it appeared Woodstock North had Woodstock on the verge of being knocked out of the playoffs, the Blue Streaks delivered.
Woodstock junior forward Selena Juarez provided the much-needed consistency, and senior forward Cody Brand made two baskets in 37 seconds to force double overtime in Tuesday’s quarterfinal. The Blue Streaks’ free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter and two overtimes (14 for 23) helped propel them to a 54-50 win.
Fifth-seeded Woodstock (7-18) faces top-seeded Marian Central in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Blue Streaks were led by Juarez’s game-high 19 points, including a 7 of 8 performance at the free-throw line, and Brand’s 16 points, 11 of which came after the third quarter.
“Tonight’s game was indicative of what her whole season has been about,” Woodstock coach Marty Hammond said of Juarez. “She is such a tremendous athlete with that attitude of never give up, never die, whatever it takes. ... She puts us in positions to have success. She deserves everything she got tonight.”
North (9-20) needed a Haley Ahr jumper with 22 seconds left in the fourth to tie the game at 37 and force overtime. The Thunder went ahead by four points with 51 seconds remaining, but couldn’t stop Brand in the paint.
“I felt like free throws were key in this game,” Juarez said. “A lot of us were making them at the end, which helped us win. Those easy baskets helped push us into the lead.”
In double overtime, the Thunder took the lead four times but each time the Blue Streaks responded on the ensuing possession to tie the game. Woodstock’s Brecken Overly scored three points in the final 38 seconds to secure the win. Ahr led the Thunder with 14 points and Ashley Jones scored 11 points.
“We’ve had a problem all season with getting away from what works,” Thunder coach Mike Lewis said. “We get in our heads that the things that work are too boring, let’s try something else. No matter how much I yell, they don’t want to listen.”
Johnsburg 68, Marengo 40: Johnsburg seemed destined for a dominating performance against Marengo.
The third-seeded Skyhawks took a commanding 13-0 lead less than three minutes into the game and were poised to control the regional quarterfinal game. However, No. 6 Marengo was determined to make Johnsburg fight to advance.
A barrage of 3-pointers from the Indians’ senior guard Lynsey Hoeske brought them back. Hoeske, who finished with a team-high 16 points, made three 3-pointers in the first half to help Marengo cut Johnsburg’s lead to 31-25 at the half.
“It’s a pretty resilient group of girls,” Marengo coach Nick Rode said. “I know there’s definitely some close relationships on the team with each other so I don’t think they get very rattled. It’s good to see them bounce back the way they did.”
The Skyhawks (11-18) didn’t let the Indians (4-23) hang around for long. They opened the third quarter like they started the game, quickly building a double-digit lead.
By the end of the third, Johnsburg led 52-31 thanks in part to an impressive shooting performance from Erika Szramek, who made three 3-pointers in the quarter. With the win, the Skyhawks face No. 2 Richmond-Burton at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
“That was one of the best starts I’ve ever seen and I think the girls were like, OK, we’ve got them,” Johnsburg coach Brad Frey said. “You can’t do that. Marengo is a solid team. They played hard. ... We decided to come out [in the third] and just play basketball.”