ELGIN – It took a little more than two quarters before Hinckley-Big Rock’s girls basketball team found its rhythm.
Once the Royals did, a pristine five-minute stretch put their IHSA Class 1A Harvest Christian Sectional semifinal matchup against Morgan Park Academy seemingly out of reach.
A 23-0 run midway through the third quarter turned a one-point deficit into an insurmountable lead as the Royals (17-13) defeated Morgan Park, 65-42, to advance to their second consecutive sectional championship.
“I think we just got rolling pretty well. We got the pressure extended and it caused some problems,” H-BR coach Greg Burks said. “Sometimes when that happens and you convert some easy transition buckets it just kind of snowballs. That’s kind of what happened here tonight.”
The Royals will face Luther North at 7 p.m. Thursday.
H-BR will look to win its first sectional championship since 2011 after losing to Annawan, 64-44, in the sectional final last season.
H-BR’s pressing defense forced turnover after turnover against a Morgan Park team that had trouble holding onto the ball. Jacqueline Madden set the tone with six steals in the first quarter alone, finishing with 11 on the night.
H-BR and Morgan Park went back and forth throughout much of the first half. The Royals got a number of easy buckets off steals and turnovers, but Morgan Park used its size inside to grab numerous offensive rebounds for putback buckets.
A jumper from Madden in the second quarter sparked a quick 6-0 run that saw Lauren Paver get inside for back-to-back layups, but Morgan Park closed the deficit to only four, 26-22, at the half.
After Morgan Park took its first lead of the game midway through the third quarter, a timeout from H-BR coach Greg Burks sparked the aforementioned 23-0 run.
Paver, who gave Morgan Park consistent trouble by attacking the basket, scored 23 of her game-high 38 points in the third quarter.