HINCKLEY – When Hinckley-Big Rock girls basketball coach Greg Burks sees his team execute the basics, he said the Royals are a very tough team.
For the first quarter of Thursday’s Little Ten Tournament semifinal against Serena, the No. 3-seeded Royals were fundamentally sound, moving the ball around with precision and getting off to a seven-point lead.
But for the rest of the contest, it was second-seeded Serena playing the better ball, as the Huskers earned a championship berth with a 45-29 win.
“When we execute the fundamentals, we’re a very good team. When we play fundamentally sound defensively, when we rebound, when we pass and catch the basketball, when we do things to make the game simple we’re a very, very good basketball team,” Burks said. “But, unfortunately, when we don’t do those things, we get to playing too fast and we do things that are outside of what our capabilities are and our abilities and our skill set, we can have some trouble.”
Serena (14-6) will play Newark – which defeated Indian Creek in Thursday’s first semifinal – in today’s championship game, which begins at 8 p.m.
The Royals (11-12) will play the Timberwolves for third place at 6:30 p.m. at Hinckley-Big Rock.
In the first quarter, H-BR looked strong offensively, with Lauren Paver, Caitlin Flanigan, Andrea Binkley and Karrigan Cowan each getting on the scoreboard. The Huskers started the second quarter on a 10-0 run and went into halftime leading 17-16.
Serena pulled away in the third quarter, as senior forward Demi Witter scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the period.
The Huskers outscored the Royals 14-6 in the third, and H-BR finished the game with 17 turnovers.
“In the first quarter we came out really strong,” H-BR junior guard Jacqueline Madden said. “We didn’t do very well with their press (the final three quarters). We didn’t pass the ball very well. We passed it slow, so they got a bunch of steals and then we kind of got a little nervous with the ball. We didn’t handle it as well as we should have.”
Paver led the Royals with 10 points. Madden added six points and Binkley had five.
H-BR’s loss sets up a rematch with rival Indian Creek, a team the Royals defeated 45-40 earlier this season. The Timberwolves defeated H-BR in last season’s third-place game.
“I think we really want to beat them, and they’re probably going to want to come back and beat us, too, from last time,” Madden said. “So, it will be a good matchup, and we really want to win.”
Timberwolves struggle offensively in loss: There was a reason Newark came into the Little Ten Tournament as the top seed.
Indian Creek coach Paul Muchmore said a big part of Newark’s success is the fact that the Norsemen don’t get flustered.
In Thursday’s early semifinal, Muchmore watched Newark play yet another strong game, as the Norsemen defeated the Timberwolves, 37-23.
“They’ve got size. They’ve got some kids who can shoot. They play hard, they play together. At least when we play them, they don’t get rattled,” Muchmore said. “I think that’s huge. I think you saw us get rattled. Especially early, we got rattled.”
Indian Creek (12-10) had some success early, moving the ball up the court well, but trailed 13-8 after the first quarter. Newark (17-5) led 22-13 at halftime and pulled away in the third, when the Norsemen outscored the Timberwolves 14-6.
“Half court we were struggling. We always want to get the ball and go,” Muchmore said. “... When we get into the halfcourt set, we need to handle it better.”
Josie Diehl led the Timberwolves with eight points. Alexis Van Wyhe added seven and Jacklyn Bouma finished with four.
Hiawatha forfeits: Hiawatha forfeited against Somonauk in a consolation semifinal, which was supposed to be played at Indian Creek. The Hawks were forced to forfeit because school was canceled Thursday because of the weather.