ELGIN – After Brooke Heiman scored 51 points in Indian Creek's first two meetings with Aurora Christian, Eagles coach Burney Wilkie said he had something up his sleeve in meeting No. 3.
Wilkie moved Annaliese Griffin over to guard Heiman, and although the junior got into foul trouble, she kept Heiman scoreless in the first quarter as the Eagles scored the first 15 points in a 74-31 win on Thursday in the Class 1A Harvest Christian Academy Regional championship.
"Heiman is so good," Wilkie said. "She is an elite scorer. ... I purposefully didn't put Anna on her either of the two times because I knew this was a possibility. And Anna, she's a matchup nightmare. Just her size and quickness makes it a little tougher. Obviously, when Anna got in a little foul trouble and we had to put other defenders on her she got off a little bit."
Heiman finished with 19 against the Eagles (27-4) after scoring 22 in the first meeting (a 70-37 loss in November) and 29 the second time around (a 67-40 loss in December).
Katie Cassidy scored the only first-quarter points for the Timberwolves (14-18), connecting on a 3-pointer with 1:08 left. After falling down 15-0, Indian Creek never got closer than 12 – although the Timberwolves didn't fall behind more than 20 until late in the second quarter.
"The first half I was really proud of us, we could have quit and given up," Cassidy said. "We could have just quit after the first quarter. They're a bigger team, they're a skilled team, and we could have let up like, 'Oh, we're done.' But we kept going and kept pushing the ball and making good shots and working our best. I'm proud of how we did."
Cassidy finished with eight, and she and Heiman were the only Timberwolves to score through the first three quarters. Neither scored in the fourth as Aurora Christian closed the game on a 25-4 run over the final 11 minutes.
"The one thing I was happy about is we didn't hang our heads," Indian Creek coach Paul Muchmore said. "We kept playing. We struggled early. We did have some shots early but they're so big they contest everything. I'm really proud of the girls kept playing, kept within our system."
Muchmore said he saw glimpses of potential in the team, particularly in the semifinal win against Hinckley-Big Rock on Tuesday – a 55-18 win against a team they had split the first two games against.
With just two seniors on the roster, Muchmore said he expects the team to make a leap next season.
"It was up and down but I kind of expected that," Muchmore said. "We played well. We beat a really good Lisle team. Three of our losses are to them, one is to Amboy. Both teams can possibly go downstate. We played a lot of good teams and that's why our record is where it's at. Next year these kids won't be so young and we'll be better."
Cassidy, one of the two seniors, said she thinks the team can excel next year as well.
"I see a lot of potential in them," Cassidy said. "They know how to work hard, they know how to run how we like to run the game. If they just keep working at it and keep doing their best, they're going to be very good."
By the numbers: Like Heiman, Griffin also was averaging 25.5 points per game through the first two games in the series. She finished with 14 points and four rebounds. Lexi Lamanna and Thay Luse each scored 16 to lead the Eagles, with Luse grabbing 11 boards. Aspen Weeks had eight steals for Aurora Christian. Heiman had 10 rebounds for Indian Creek.
Beyond the stats: Every one of the five games in the regional was decided by at least 29 points.
They said it: "I told the girls the first time we played them that's probably the best team in 1A," Muchmore said. "Plain and simple, that's what I think."
Up next: The Eagles will open the 1A Putnam County sectional against St. Bede.