Royals bring home sectional title

ELGIN – Hinckley-Big Rock’s group of three seniors was only freshmen when the Royals won their last sectional championship, cutting down the nets on their home court in 2011.

On Thursday, they continued the growing list of accomplishments for H-BR girls basketball by raising their own sectional plaque with a 55-31 victory over Luther North in the Class 1A Harvest Christian Sectional final.

Both teams seemed caught up in the pressure of a sectional final, committing several unforced turnovers in the first quarter. After Luther North took a 4-3 lead, H-BR ran off 10 consecutive points that included a layup from Jacqueline Madden off a feed from Andrea Binkley and a 3-pointer from Lexi Gonzalez.

A Lauren Paver putback just before the first quarter buzzer stretched H-BR’s lead to 15-6.

But the transition offense that has been so lethal throughout the postseason went cold in the second quarter. Luther North took advantage of its size inside and forced H-BR into tough shots during a six-minute period that saw the Royals go scoreless. In that same period, Luther North managed enough offense to get back into the game and cut H-BR’s lead to 21-18 at halftime.

A strong third quarter was the difference for Hinckley-Big Rock in Tuesday’s sectional semifinal and it once again proved to be a difference in favor of the Royals. Paver started the quarter with a layup, plus the foul, to spark a 13-2 run.

Luther North never was close after that.

The Royals pulled away in the fourth as Paver and Madden racked up multiple steals and a Karrigan Cowan jumper from the baseline put H-BR’s lead at 20 with less than three minutes left.

Paver led the Royals with 19 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Madden added 10 points and five steals while Cowan had eight points and eight rebounds off the bench.

The championship comes one year after the Royals lost to Annawan, 64-44, in last season’s sectional final.

The Royals (18-13) will play in the Class 1A DeKalb Super-Sectional on Monday.