Basketball

High school girls basketball: Marian Central prepares for Mendota Sectional

Marian Central's Janelle Allen (10) celebrates with head coach Ephraim Lee after winning the IHSA Class 2A Wheaton Academy Regional championship game against Marengo at Wheaton Academy on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in West Chicago, Ill. Marian Central won, 48-40.
Marian Central's Janelle Allen (10) celebrates with head coach Ephraim Lee after winning the IHSA Class 2A Wheaton Academy Regional championship game against Marengo at Wheaton Academy on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in West Chicago, Ill. Marian Central won, 48-40.

Marian Central senior forward Janelle Allen and girls basketball coach Ephraim Lee stood across from each other and flexed their muscles in a sort of celebratory pose-off after Marian's 48-40 upset win over Marengo in the Class 2A Wheaton Academy Regional championship game Friday.

The No. 4-seeded Hurricanes went into the postseason with eight wins, while No. 1-seeded Marengo entered Friday's regional final with 20 wins in three straight seasons and regional titles in each of the past two.

None of that mattered for the pumped-up Hurricanes.

"It's surreal," said Allen, a three-year varsity starter for the Hurricanes and NCAA Division I Holy Cross commit. "It's something we've been working hard for. Coach Lee has told us every day that we work for regionals, and here we are. All the work and sweat and aches and pains, they finally paid off."

Marian's regional title is the first since 2013. The Hurricanes (10-21) advance to play No. 3-seeded Riverdale (25-3) in a Mendota Sectional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

No. 3-seeded Johnsburg (17-15) – which defeated No. 2-seeded Rockford Lutheran, 44-36, in the Class 2A Genoa-Kingston Regional final – plays No. 4-seeded Winnebago (21-10) in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Johnsburg has won two straight regional titles. Last year's was in 3A.

The Class 3A and 4A postseason also starts Monday, with Fox Valley Conference champion Dundee-Crown (No. 1), Huntley (3) and McHenry (3) among the top area seeds. Kishwaukee River Conference champion Woodstock North (6) goes for its first regional in program history.

Marian did not have any wins in the East Suburban Catholic Conference this season, going 0-7 and losing by an average score of 54-34. Benet is ranked No. 1 and Marist is No. 8 in the latest Associated Press Class 4A poll.

The ESCC is one of the most challenging conferences in the state, so Lee put those tough games and a few lopsided losses in perspective.

"I always remind the girls, if we can contend and even beat some of the teams that we play throughout the year, imagine what we can do to other teams that don't always play this level of competition," Lee said.

"We play against Benet, the No. 1 team in the state. We play against Nazareth, which has a girl going (Division I), two of them probably. We contend; we hang in those games. Through some really bad losses, we stuck through it. Hard work really does pay off."

Looking back at the ups and downs of the regular season, Marian wouldn't change a thing. The Hurricanes, who entered the playoffs with six straight losses, have never won a sectional title before, according to records on IHSA.org.

"The fact that we can come out here and still give everything we have after our season, it means so much," junior guard Jenna Golembiewski said. "We play against some of the toughest teams in the state. It really does put us through it, but we've learned to come together as a team.

"Even when we are down, we pick each other up. It's that constant teamwork that's always there."

Postseason pairings

CLASS 2A

Mendota Sectional

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 1: (4) Winnebago vs. (3) Johnsburg, 6 p.m.

Game 2: (4) Marian Central vs. (3) Riverdale 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

CLASS 3A

Crystal Lake South Sectional

Tuesday, Feb. 25

Game 1: Winner Prairie Ridge Regional vs. Winner Deerfield Regional, 6 p.m.

Game 2: Winner Antioch Regional vs. Winner Resurrection Regional, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday,, Feb. 27

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

Antioch Regional

Monday, Feb. 17

Game 1: (15) Fenton vs. (18) North Chicago, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 19

Game 2: (2) Vernon Hills vs. Winner Game 1, 6 p.m.

Game 3: (7) St. Viator vs. (10) Antioch, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 21

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.

Prairie Ridge Regional

Monday, Feb. 17

Game 1: (16) Ridgewood vs. (17) Lakes, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 2: (1) Grayslake Central vs. Winner Game 1, 6 p.m.

Game 3: (8) Crystal Lake South vs. (9) Prairie Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.

Deerfield Regional

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 1: (4) Wauconda vs. (13) Harvard, 6 p.m.

Game 2: (5) Deerfield vs. (12) Grayslake North, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

Resurrection Regional

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 1: (3) Resurrection vs. (14) Crystal Lake Central, 6 p.m.

Game 2: (6) Woodstock North vs. (11) Woodstock, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 21

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

Hampshire Sectional

Tuesday, Feb. 25

Game 1: Winner Sycamore Regional vs. Winner Burlington Central Regional, 6 p.m.

Game 2: Winner IMSA Regional vs. Winner Freeport Regional, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Game 3 at 7:00 pm: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

Sycamore Regional

Monday, Feb. 17

Game 1: (7) Rochelle vs. (9) Belvidere, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 2: (1) Sycamore vs. Winner Game 1, 6 p.m.

Game 3: (4) Dixon vs. (5) Hampshire, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.

Burlington Central Regional

Monday, Feb. 17

Game 1: (8) Plano vs. (9) Hinsdale South, 7p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 2: (2) Burlington Central vs. Winner Game 1, 6 p.m.

Game 3: (3) Glenbard South vs. (6) St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.

CLASS 4A

Huntley Sectional

Tuesday, Feb. 25

Game 1: Winner Harlem Regional vs. Winner Streamwood Regional. 6 p.m.

Game 2: Winner Dundee-Crown Regional vs. Winner Rockford Guilford Regional, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

Streamwood Regional

Monday, Feb. 17

Game 1: (8) Larkin vs. (9) Elgin, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 19

Game 2: (2) Barrington vs. Winner Game 1, 6 p.m.

Game 3: (3) McHenry vs. (6) Streamwood, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 21

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.

Rockford Guilford Regional

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 1: (2) Hononegah vs. (7) Rockford East, 6 p.m.

Game 2: (3) Huntley vs. (6) Rockford Guilford, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

Dundee-Crown Regional

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 1: (1) Dundee-Crown vs. (7) Algonquin (Jacobs), 6 p.m.

Game 2: (4) South Elgin vs. (5) Cary-Grove, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

Harlem Regional

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Game 1: (1) Rockford Auburn vs. (8) Rockford Jefferson, 6 p.m.

Game 2: (4) Harlem vs. (5) DeKalb, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m.

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