HUNTLEY – The bigger the moment, the better Dundee-Crown played Thursday night in a noisy and nearly packed gym in the Class 4A Huntley Sectional title game.
That certainly was true for junior Alyssa Crenshaw, who buried an 18-foot jumper with her team trailing Barrington by a point in the final 2 minutes.
Teammate Payton Schmidt proved just as clutch moments later at the free-throw line. She sank 3 of 4 in the last 37 seconds to clinch a 43-37 victory and the school's first sectional championship since 2003.
The Chargers found themselves down by seven points in the third quarter on a night nothing came easy offensively. But as it has done all season, overcoming season-ending injuries to two of their best players, Dundee-Crown found a way to gut out a win.
"We never gave up the fight," Chargers coach Sarah Miller said. "In those final moments it showed true. This is a great team, they believed in each other. And we're not done yet."
D-C (29-6) continued adding to its school record for wins. The Chargers will face Lake Park (25-8), a 64-45 winner over Geneva, at 7 p.m. Monday in the Class 4A South Elgin Supersectional.
The teams played earlier this season at D-C's Christmas tournament with the Lancers winning, 73-63, behind 41 points from DePaul-bound Darrione Rogers.
Barrington (22-10) lost despite holding the Chargers to 29% shooting from the field. Both teams made 16 field goals, but D-C got 19 more shots up, thanks to a 36-23 rebounding edge and forcing 18 turnovers while committing only eight.
Barrington also only shot two free throws in the game, missing both, while the Chargers made 10 of 12.
"We got a little sloppy," Barrington coach Babbi Barreiro said. "What makes Dundee-Crown so difficult to play is their aggressiveness. You have to take better care of the ball in those situations. We had some lazy passes. In a game like this, you have to value the ball every possession."
Crenshaw took a seat early in the first quarter, picking up her second foul at the 5:45 mark, but Barrington couldn't capitalize, trailing 13-11 after one quarter.
"It was tough, but I knew my team had my back," Crenshaw said. "The Chargers led, 20-18, at halftime before Barrington heated up in the third quarter. Anna Mae King, Shanna Turczynski and Sophia Swanson knocked down 3-pointers.
Taylor Thompson, a 6-foot senior headed to the Missouri-St. Louis, scored inside for the biggest lead either team had all night, 33-26.
The Chargers scored the final four points of the third quarter, then caught a big break early in the fourth when Barrington was whistled for a technical foul for coming out of a timeout with six players on the court.
Crenshaw sank both free throws to bring her team within 33-32 with 6:14 to play.
Crenshaw scored 14 of D-C's first 18 points of the second half, the final four coming on a putback and then a jumper that turned a 37-34 deficit into a 38-37 lead with 1:38 remaining.
"I just saw the open basket, and I was very confident," Crenshaw said. "When you have a couple bigger girls down low, you want that inside-outside game."
Clinging to that one-point lead, D-C fittingly sealed the game with three defensive stops. Barrington had three shots in the air for the lead over that stretch, but they all missed, the final a corner 3-pointer by Turczynski with 10 seconds left.
Schmidt, standing only 5-6, pulled down the rebound, her eighth, and made both free throws for a 41-37 lead with 9.3 seconds left. Katelyn Skibinski followed with a steal and a layup for the final margin.
"In practice, we practice pressure free throws almost every day," Schmidt said. "That's just something we have drilled into us. I knew I had to have them. To make history is one of the greatest feelings ever."
Crenshaw (19 points), Schmidt (11) and Skibinski (10) combined for 40 of the Chargers' 43 points.
"All the girls have worked so hard throughout the summer," Skibinski said. "All that hard work and effort is paying off. Our team chemistry is indescribable."
Swanson, a freshman, paced Barrington with 15 points, and Thompson scored 12.
"These kids have come a long way," Barreiro said. "I have a fantastic group of seniors who have put up some big numbers in this program. We improved all season long, and tonight was a real hard battle. We had our chances to win the game."