NORRIDGE – Johnsburg's girls basketball team huddled one last time after the Skyhawks' bid for a third straight regional title came up short with a 65-42 loss to Chicago Resurrection in the Class 3A Ridgewood Regional championship Friday.
Before the huddle broke, the Skyhawks uttered their team slogan, 'Ohana,' meaning family, and retreated to the visitors' locker room. When players emerged, they expressed optimism both for the season and the future.
"We kept together, and we kept encouraging each other the whole season and we're just proud we made it to the regional championship," said Heather Arden, one of three Johnsburg seniors. "Not a lot of people can say they got that far."
The Skyhawks (17-14) lost their top two leading scorers, senior Kayla Stefka and junior Morgan Madsen to injuries earlier in the season. Even being in a position to win a third regional title was encouraging, first-year coach Ashley Arff said.
"Resurrection is a really great team. They're well-rounded," Arff said. "We had so many losses with our big-time players on the team, and it hasn't been consistent with our other players who stepped up and took those spots.
"With the season that we've had, it's huge to be playing for a regional championship. I'm very, very proud of them. This year was a building year. We're very young, so we have a lot to look forward to."
Junior guard Megan Madsen, Morgan's twin sister and Stefka's cousin, scored a team-high 16 points with five rebounds and three assists, despite being the focal point of the Bandits (17-11). Madsen entered the game averaging 20-plus points over the past seven games.
"The focus was knowing where Megan Madsen was at all times," Resurrection coach Jon Palicki said. "We looked at their team stats, and they shot 500 3s. ... Obviously, we wanted to take away the 3."
Four of Johnsburg's 12 field goals were 3s. Megan Madsen had two. Korbi Fritz (five points) and Katelyn Davis (six points) had one apiece. Mackenzie Straulin made 7-of-8 free throws for seven points.
After scoring 17 points in the first quarter, the Skyhawks were unable to do much offensively in the second and third quarters, going 1 of 15 from the field with only 12 points. The Bandits had intense pressure throughout game and forced 23 turnovers.
Johnsburg had more turnovers than field goal attempts in the second and third quarters as the Bandits built a 50-26 lead going into the fourth. Veronica Kieres had 25 points and Mary Quinn had 15 to lead Resurrection.
"They were trapping really hard, and it was hard for us to get the ball moving fast enough to break that," Megan Madsen said.
Johnsburg will return nine of 12 varsity players next season, losing Stefka, Arden and Fritz.
Stefka, a four-year varsity player who finishes with 885 career points, was proud of how the Skyhawks responded despite heavy losses. She especially was proud of her cousin Megan.
"It broke my heart seeing it end, because I've been playing my whole life," Stefka said. "I'm just really proud of my cousin, Megan, for all she's done and stepping up. She stepped up so much."
Megan Madsen said she expects the Skyhawks to come back even stronger next year, and was already pointing to summer workouts.
"We've all worked hard throughout the season with the adversity we've gone through," Madsen said. "Everyone has improved. I knew someone had to fill in, so I just took that role, and kind of just tried my hardest to get everyone involved. I think it's going to be really good next year."
"I think we'll go a lot farther than we did this year," Arff said. "We're going to be healthy, and it's a new start for us."
STAR OF THE GAME
Megan Madsen, Johnsburg, jr., G
Madsen led the Skyhawks in scoring in both regional games. The junior finished with 16 points and two 3s against Chicago Resurrection to go along with five rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
1: Field goals for Johnsburg between the second and third quarters.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
Johnsburg junior Katelyn Davis advanced in the IHSA 3-Point Showdown and will compete before the Woodstock North Sectional championship onThursday. She'll be joined by Richmond-Burton's Kayla Malec and Kayly Hogan, who also advanced.
Chicago Resurrection 65, Johnsburg 42
Johnsburg 14 3 9 16 – 42
Resurrection 22 11 17 15 – 65
JOHNSBURG (42): Madsen 4 6-6 16, Davis 2 1-2 6, Metze 1 0-0 2, Arden 1 0-0 2, Straulin 0 7-8 7, Fritz 2 0-0 5, Hendrixson 1 0-0 2, Blount 1 0-0 2. Totals: 12 14-16 42.
RESURRECTION (65): Kieres 11 3-5 25, Thompson 3 0-0 8, Quinn 6 3-4 15, LaSusa 1 0-0 2, Dorband 5 0-0 11. Totals: 28 6-12 65.
3-point goals: Johnsburg 3 (Madsen, Davis, Fritz), Resurrection 3 (Thompson 2, Dorband). Total fouls: Johnsburg 16, Resurrection 13.