JOHNSBURG — No matter how hard it tried, Johnsburg's girls basketball team couldn't get into a rhythm.
The Skyhawks were down by five headed to the fourth quarter of their regular-season finale against nonconference foe Marian Central on Thursday, and were ice cold from the field, shooting 28.2 percent (11 for 39) through three quarters.
Then, it was like someone flipped a light switch on.
After trailing for the game's first 25-plus minutes, the Skyhawks (17-11) staged a furious fourth-quarter rally, then held on in the waning moments for an emotionally-charged 49-45 victory.
Down 38-35 early in the fourth, Skyhawks' junior Kaitlyn Owen hit a pair of running floaters on back-to-back possessions — including a shot put-like heave from near the foul line with 6:47 left to play — giving Johnsburg its first lead of the night.
"We were just playing on instinct and adrenaline down the stretch," Owen said. "Doing anything I could to help my team win."
Marian Central (11-16) tied the game twice during the next three minutes, then re-took the lead for the final time, 45-43, with 3:10 left. A key reason was the stellar play of senior guard Regan Dineen, who finished with a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Eight of Dineen's boards came on the offensive glass, but she had plenty of company in that category. Johnsburg senior Megan Madsen (13 points), playing in the final home game of her varsity career, ripped down 12 rebounds, nine coming at the offensive end.
The two teams combined for 29 offensive rebounds, 15 by the Skyhawks, 14 by the Hurricanes. Bodies were routinely piled up on the ground as the teams scrapped for loose balls. But it was Madsen's ability to draw contact in the lane which resulted in a huge 3-point play with 1:48 to go. It also broke a 45-45 tie, and tipped the see-saw in Johnsburg's favor for good, 48-45.
"I knew this was going to be the last time I played a game in this gym, so I knew I had to lay it all on the line and give it my all," Madsen said.
Her twin sister, Morgan, tied her sibling with 13 points of her own, to go along with five rebounds.
"This was a huge win for us against a really good, underrated, physical team," Morgan Madsen said. "A win like this was a perfect tune-up for the upcoming playoffs next week."
Skyhawks coach Erin Thomas described her team's effort late in the game as "energized."
"Probably the most inspired I've seen these girls all season," Thomas said.
Marian coach Ephraim Lee praised his team's effort, and hoped it can crank up the intensity when the playoffs begin. Sophomore Morgan Laudick scored 12 points, all in the second half, which included three 3's and a three-point play.
"We just need to elevate our game to the level we know we're capable of," Lee said. "We have to focus on fundamentals, taking care of the ball, and avoid being too cute."
STAR OF THE GAME
Megan Madsen, Johnsburg, sr., G
Madsen notched a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) in the final home game of her high school career.
29: Combined offensive rebounds by the two teams, 15 by the Skyhawks, 14 by the Hurricanes.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Megan Madsen's twin sister, Morgan, matched her sibling's total with 13 points of her own.
Johnsburg 49, Marian Central 45
Marian Central 15 6 17 7 – 45
Johnsburg 12 7 14 16 – 49
Marian Central (45): Dineen 7 3-3 18, Laudick 4 1-1 12, Allen 3 1-2 7, Bahl 2 1-3 5, Reynolds 1 0-0 3, Hoover 0 0-0 0, Kelly 0 0-0 0, Newsome 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 6-9 45.
Johnsburg (49): Megan Madsen 4 4-6 13, Morgan Madsen 4 3-8 13, Owen 4 0-0 9, Wetzel 3 2-2 8, Metze 1 0-0 3, Macy Madsen 1 0-0 2, Straulin 0 1-2 1, Hendrixson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 10-18 49.
3-point field goals: Marian Central 5 (Laudick 3, Dineen, Reynolds), Johnsburg 5 (Morgan Madsen 2, Megan Madsen, Owen, Metze).
Total team fouls: Marian Central 15, Johnsburg 13.
Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.