Cary-Grove girls rally past Crystal Lake South

CARY – Cary-Grove had been in this position before against Crystal Lake South.

The Gators had already beaten the Trojans twice this season, including once in overtime, and they started well enough for yet another win in Wednesday's regional semifinal. South took a nine-point lead into the second quarter, but the Trojans, on their homecourt, put together an effort that left second-seeded South reeling.

The No. 3-seeded Trojans' 20-point outburst in the second quarter gave them the lead at halftime, which they never relinquished en route to a 57-45 win. C-G (18-11) advances to Friday's regional final against top-seeded Prairie Ridge.

"We mixed things up quite a bit defensively to give them different looks," C-G coach Rod Saffert said. "We had, in our opinion, a better gameplan defensively for each one of their players."

While junior Katie Barker led C-G in scoring with 15 points, the Trojans got much needed scoring from senior Ashley Glaysher and production off the bench (21 points). Glaysher finished with 13 points while sophomore forward Brianne Prank scored seven points off the bench.

"Especially in the postseason, the seniors know this is our last season so we need to put everything into it," Glaysher said. "Everyone's looking to score and wants to be a part of the win so I think we're all going really hard at it."

The Gators (16-13) briefly tied the game at 38 with 3:16 left in the third quarter on Chanel Fanter's 3-pointer. However, C-G closed the quarter on a 6-0 run and extended its lead to double digits early in the fourth, which South couldn't recover from.

Senior forward Sara Mickow led South with 16 points while Fanter and senior guard Rachel Rasmussen finished with 13 and 11 points respectively. Mickow eclipsed 1,000 career points during the first quarter with a pair of free throws.

"They just outplayed us both on offense and defense tonight," South coach Kyle McCaughn said. "My kids played their hearts out. Can't ask anymore of them. They just got outplayed tonight."

Prairie Ridge 34, Crystal Lake Central 32: Winning ugly carries little weight at this part of the season, as No. 1-seeded Prairie Ridge discovered in Wednesday's regional semifinal against Crystal Lake Central.

It didn't matter that the Wolves managed only one fourth-quarter field goal. They made 7 of 12 free-throw attempts in the fourth and held off the fourth-seeded Tigers despite two 3-pointers by Central senior Shannon Ellman in the final six seconds that made it a two-point game.

Not only does the win send the Wolves to the regional title game Friday against C-G, but they reach 20 wins on the season, which has been a goal since the beginning of the year.

"We knew coming out it was going to be low scoring, and that they wanted to battle us," Wolves coach Rob Baker said. "They made it very hard for us to score. We played great defense too. ... We won playing their style of game."

A little more than two weeks after the Wolves beat the Tigers by 19 points in a nonconference game, Central gave them everything they could handle. Timely baskets from Sarah Le Beau (eight points) and Kelly Klendworth (11 points) helped the Wolves build a seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter. An inability to score in the second and third quarters (seven total points) hurt the Tigers' comeback bid.

There were some ifs left behind in the loss for the Tigers (15-14). If only a few more open looks fell. If only they could have taken advantage of holding Prairie Ridge to 34 points. But Central coach Paul Lichtenheld was proud of his team and how it battled back from nine-point fourth quarter deficit.

"At the end of game, I don't have a regret about what we did or didn't do," Lichtenheld said. "We did what we were supposed to do for 32 minutes."