CARPENTERSVILLE – For two and a half quarters, Cary-Grove more than held its own against undefeated Rockford Boylan, cutting an eight-point deficit at half into five about midway through the third quarter.
From that point on, the Titans – ranked second in the final Class 4A state poll – simply took over.
Led by senior McKenzie Brown with 11 of her game-high 22 points in the third, Boylan closed the quarter on a 15-2 run as the Titans pulled away and defeated the Trojans, 59-36, Tuesday at the Class 4A Dundee-Crown Sectional semifinals.
Top-seeded Boylan (31-0) advances to play No. 2 Hononegah in the championship at 7 p.m. Thursday. Hononegah (27-4) defeated top-seeded McHenry, 64-41, in the opening semifinal.
“They came into it supposedly the better team, and they showed it,” said C-G’s Katie Sowa, who finishes her four-year varsity career as the Trojans’ third all-time leading scorer with 1,325 points.
“We played our hardest. We hung with them the first half. Obviously, they came out and said, ‘You know what? We’re gonna win it.’ ... And that’s what a team that hasn’t lost all year does.”
Sowa led the Trojans with 11 points, but no other player finished with more than seven. Junior guard Bailey Steinkamp recorded seven points, and Abby Getka, Maddie Jannusch, Nicollette Richardi and Ally Raupp each finished with four points. Sowa and Steinkamp each had a 3-pointer.
Boylan, which is 62-2 in the past two years, outscored the Trojans, 28-10, over the final 12:20, holding C-G to only two points for almost eight minutes between the third and fourth quarters.
Junior guard Ashley Reyes added 16 points for Boylan, and Peyton Kennedy tossed in 11 points.
“Defensively, what didn’t happen for us tonight, is they (Boylan) drive,” Trojans coach Rod Saffert said. “And teams that drive, we normally take those charges. We just didn’t have anybody step in front of anybody. They’re 31-0, and we’re not. You can tell they’re a No. 2 in the state.”
The Trojans finished the season 19-11, winning their first regional title in five years and their 19th overall.
“This team was the best team I’ve been a part of in a while,” Sowa said. “I’m going to miss it, but it was a really good year. I think everybody is on the same page, and they’ll get it going again in the offseason. I hope it goes well.”
In the second semifinal, Hononegah held McHenry’s top two scorers, Aannah Interrante and Liz Alsot, to a combined 13 points. Interrante had seven points in her final varsity game, ending her career with 1,706 career points. Alsot tallied six points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
Hononegah led, 29-23, at half and started to pull away in the third, outscoring the Warriors, 25-13. In the final eight minutes, the Indians held McHenry to only five points.
“We were keeping up with them, and then we kind of lost sight of it,” Interrante said. “We kind of sped up, and they got us out of our game. They forced easy turnovers, and we just got taken out our game, and they capitalized on it.”
Junior Izzy Gscheidle led the Warriors with 12 points, two 3s and three blocks. Freshman Ashley Wachter had six points and two 3s, and sophomore point guard Ava Interrante tallied five points.
The Warriors (28-3) finish the season with a program-record 28 wins, their first regional title since 2004, and McHenry’s only Fox Valley Conference basketball championship – girls or boys – in 40 years.
“It’s not about this game,” McHenry coach Rob Niemic said. “At some point, it’s going to come to an end. I wish it wouldn’t have been today. We’ve got some really special people in that locker room. They’re special kids that do things that I ask of them, and they don’t flinch. Kids like this and a season like this, they don’t come around very often.”
Alsot, who ends her varsity career with 1,292 points and more than 1,000 rebounds, said she couldn’t have asked for a better season and team.
“It’s more than basketball. We’re a family,” Alsot said. “We’re best friends on and off the court. That’s what makes [the loss] hurt more, that we all care about each other. I know that some teams don’t have that, but we do.”