CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake Central’s Maddie Haslow stole the inbounds pass and scored a layup in the final seconds, but time simply ran out on the Tigers.
McHenry celebrated a 51-48 victory over Central in the Class 4A Prairie Ridge Regional championship game, the Warriors’ first regional title since the 2003-04 season.
“To have that is a huge accomplishment for our team,” McHenry guard Aannah Interrante said. “Definitely a really emotional game for us.”
McHenry (28-2) advances to the
Class 4A Dundee-Crown Sectional semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday to play the winner of Friday’s Rockford Auburn Regional final between Hononegah and Belvidere North.
Central (15-14) fought as tough as it has all year in what was its fourth loss to McHenry this season.
“Talking to our coaching staff and our kids, I said, ‘What more can we ask for than for them to have their best game on the last night?’ ” Central coach Derek Crabill said. “And that’s what we had. Their energy was outstanding; they kept their poise.”
McHenry jumped out to an early 15-8 lead, but Central worked its way back into the game. The Tigers tied it with five minutes remaining after trailing for more than two quarters. That’s when Aannah Interrante scored back-to-back 3-pointers for the Warriors.
She finished with 18 points, 14 of them in the second half.
“We kind of lost each other in the first half,” Interrante said. “We regrouped at halftime and talked about how much we want this, how much we’ve worked for it.”
Senior Liz Alsot scored 11 points and pulled in 17 rebounds. Freshman Ashley Wachter and sophomore Ava Interrante each scored seven points.
Wachter scored a couple of key buckets in the first half to help McHenry jump ahead.
“She’s come a long way throughout the season,” McHenry coach Rob Niemic said. “That’s what you want. She helped us find a way to win. Everybody, at some point today, helped us find a way to win.”
After Aannah Interrante’s late 3s, Izzy Gscheidle knocked down two free throws and Alsot scored a layup to put the Warriors up by eight.
The final minutes turned into a free-throw competition with Central inching its way closer before time ran out.
Freshman Nora Ryan scored 17 points and pulled in 10 rebounds for Central. Haslow scored 12 points and added seven rebounds. The Tigers made life tough on McHenry, less than a month after the Warriors drubbed Central by 39.
“They played their tails off,” Niemic said. “Throw the records out, you play a team four times, that’s going to happen.”
Crabill noted that his team could have come in scared against the sub-sectional’s No. 1 seed, but the Tigers didn’t. They were trying to win their first regional title since 2008-09.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” Crabill said. “Rob’s got a very talented team and they’ve got a chance to go a long way.”
McHenry survived another scare two days earlier in the regional semifinal, a 56-53 win over Streamwood. This time of year, it’s never easy.
“That’s what’s going to happen: You’re going to have a target on your back being the 1-seed,” Niemic said. “You’re going to get everybody’s best effort.”
STAR OF THE GAME
McHenry, sr., G
Interrante scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half, including three 3-pointers.
14: Years since McHenry girls basketball won a regional title until Thursday night.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Both teams pressed full court and played at a frenetic pace. They combined for 64 turnovers.
McHenry 51, Crystal Lake Central 48
CL Central 8 13 10 17 — 48
McHenry 15 8 11 17 — 51
CRYSTAL LAKE CENTRAL (48): Hamill 3 0-2 6, Olson 1 2-2 4, Ryan 4 9-12 17, Geske 1 0-0 2, Haslow 5 1-3 12, Hollander 0 0-0 0, Fleming 3 1-4 7. Totals: 17 13-23 48.
3-point goals: 1 (Haslow 1).
McHENRY (51): Gscheidle 1 4-7 6, Howie 1 0-0 2, Av. Interrante 3 0-2 7, Alsot 5 1-4 11, Aa. Interrante 6 3-6 18, Wachter 3 0-0 7, Henderson 0 0-0 0, Hartfield 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 8-19 51.
3-point goals: 5 (Aa. Interrante 3, Wachter 1, Av. Interrante 1).