HINCKLEY – Hinckley-Big Rock's Jacqueline Madden and Lauren Paver got some timely advice from an unlikely source late in overtime of Saturday's Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock Regional final against Indian Creek.
With the Royals trailing by one and the game delayed due to an injury, Madden and Paver gathered close to the far sideline as former H-BR teammate Katie Hollis yelled from the front row of the stands for both players to "keep driving."
On the ensuing Royals possession, Paver did exactly that, attacking the basket for the go-ahead layup with 90 seconds remaining. Madden then came up with a steal and was fouled on her layup attempt, but made both foul shots as the Royals hung on for a 46-45 victory over their Little Ten rival.
The victory gave H-BR its seventh consecutive girls basketball regional championship, dating back to the 2006-07 season. The Royals advance to face Putnam County in the Oglesby Sectional semifinals at Illinois Valley Community College on Monday at 6 p.m.
"I listen to them, they're older than me," Madden said. "They're like my idols. [Hollis] has played in a lot of good games."
Indian Creek and H-BR split two games during the regular season and this one was tight throughout. Both team struggled offensively in the first half, but the Timberwolves pounded the offensive glass early on. Ariel Russell hit two three-pointers in the first half, including one with 1:22 remaining in the second quarter to give the Timberwolves a 19-17 lead at halftime.
The Timberwolves extended it to seven late in the third quarter as Josie Diehl made back-to-back baskets and Kate Thuestad came up with a three-point play on a putback layup.
"It took us about 16-20 minutes to finally get going and realize that they were cheating down. We got some really nice looks," Indian Creek coach Paul Muchmore said. "I thought we played our best late in the third quarter, early fourth quarter."
Yet H-BR's pressure started to wear on Indian Creek. The Royals took advantage of 14 Indian Creek turnovers in the third and fourth quarters after forcing only seven in the first half.
A putback by Madden gave H-BR a one-point lead with just more than a minute remaining, but Diehl's layup off a nice feed from Russell gave the lead back to Indian Creek. On H-BR's ensuing possession, Bridgette Edmeier was fouled on a jump shot and made one of two free throws to force overtime.
"When we did [play defense and rebound] well we extended the lead, when we did it poorly we allowed them to get a seven-point lead," H-BR coach Greg Burks said. "That was a classic game between two teams that didn't want their season to end. It was a great effort on both sides of the floor."
H-BR scored only one point in overtime before Paver and Madden combined for the last four, but the Royals held Indian Creek without a field goal for the final four minutes of overtime.
After the regional final was pushed back from Thursday to Saturday following the recent snow storm, H-BR now has a quick turnaround in facing Putnam County on Monday.
"With this group that might be a better option," Burks said. "Just play and play and play and not have to think about what we're going to do."