March 4, 2017
SUGAR GROVE — The Carl Sandburg College women’s basketball team rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit and went on to beat Prairie State 68-65 in overtime Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the Region IV District D tournament.
The second-seeded Chargers (17-10) advance to face top seed and fourth-ranked Kankakee in the championship at noon March 11 at Waubonsee. The winner moves on to the NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship March 21-25 in Harrison, Ark. It’s Sandburg’s first Region IV championship appearance since 2009.
To get there, the Chargers had to come back from a 50-39 deficit with 7:52 left in regulation. They rattled off 10 straight points to get within one midway through the period, starting with back-to-back baskets from freshman Maddy Lowe (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap), who scored 14 of her team-leading 20 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
A layup from sophomore forward Sabrina Clay (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg) gave the Chargers a 53-52 lead — their first since 37-32 early in the third — with 1:35 to play. The Pioneers’ Dasia McByrd split a pair of free throws with :41 left in the fourth to tie the game at 55. It stayed that way as Sandburg got two great looks from Kassi Henrekin (Deer Grove, Ill./Prophetstown) and Kierra Williams (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone) in the closing seconds of regulation, and the teams went to overtime.
Prairie State (16-12) opened OT with a 3-pointer, but the Chargers answered with seven straight points in a span of 1:03 and never trailed again. Kara Caldwell (Washington, Ill./Washington) tied it with a 3, and she fed Clay for the go-ahead layup with 3:10 to play.
Lowe’s layup with a minute left gave the Chargers a 68-65 advantage. The Pioneers had the ball in the closing seconds with a chance to tie, but Ariana Dampier’s 3-pointer from the left corner was well off the mark.
“Maddy played great for us down the stretch, but it was a total team effort, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime,” Chargers coach Mike Bailey said. “We played solid team defense when we needed to, and once we stopped turning the ball over so much, we were able to execute a lot better on the offensive end.”
Clay scored 10 of her 12 points after halftime, and Caldwell hit three 3s and finished with 11 points for Sandburg. Freshman forward Will Porter (Wyoming, Ill./Stark County) finished just shy of a double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing a team-best nine rebounds.
“To win a conference championship and now to have the chance to play for a region title is a huge accomplishment for this group. Not too many teams are able to say that,” Bailey said. “We’ve got a tough challenge ahead of us next week and we’ll need to play a lot better than we did today, but we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”