NORMAL, Ill. -- Two three-pointers in the last 30 seconds of the first half told the story of Regina's 56-54 Class AA state semifinal loss to Naperville Central at Redbird Arena Saturday.
With 29 seconds left and reigning Ms. Basketball Candace Parker out of the
game with three fouls, freshman Erica Carter stepped up to deliver the
first three and stretch Naperville Central's lead to nine at 30-21. But
the killer for coach Jim Russo's team was Rachel Crissy's shot with five
"When they took Candace out of the game, we went to a 1-2-2 trapping zone
and the first time got a steal," said Russo, whose group of players hadn't
allowed more than 41 points in a game since Feb. 1—their last loss [to
Marshall] until Saturday. "But they did a nice job. A six-point lead
became a 12-point game and more difficult to deal with."
Those were Naperville Central's only three-pointers of the game.
Regina (25-11) salvaged its Saturday by edging Belleville Altoff 64-60 for
third place. Marquette-bound Christina Quaye played all 40 minutes for
Regina and ended her senior season with 25 points as the Panthers matched
their third-place finish from 1984. Stephanie Lisch of Althoff (24-7) had
36 points before fouling out in the second extra session.
In the semifinal, Russo said he knew Regina wasn't going to be able to
stop Parker, but the Panthers tried to limit Central's other players. That
strategy gave Central one of its toughest victories and almost ended the
Redhawks' unbeaten run.
Parker had 25 of Central's 40 shots and finished with 32 points and 11
rebounds in the semifinal.
Regina's balance was better. Quaye led the Panthers, the team that entered
the quarterfinals with more losses than anyone else, with 19 points,
Ashley Robinson had 14 including three three-pointers in the final
quarter, and Lauren Schober scored 13. Quaye and Schoeber each had 10
After Parker picked up her fourth foul with 5:09 left, Regina closed
strong. The Panthers trailed 51-42 after a Parker basket with 3:38 left,
but drew to 53-50 thanks to two of Robinson's three-pointers.
It wasn't quite enough. Parker hit two free throws with 51.5 seconds left
for a 55-50 lead and Central led 56-52 after she nailed the second of two
attempts with 9.2 seconds on the clock.
"We were just trying to get a steal and play tough defense at the other
end," said Quaye of the final minutes.
Fenwick breezes in semis: There's usually a lot of focus on the Friars'
6-foot-2-inch Erin Lawless after games, but on Saturday in the semifinals
the spotlight turned to guards Kristin Heidloff and Breanne Smilie.
Smilie hit all five of her three-point attempts and Heidloff was three for
five in Fenwick's 80-54 victory over Belleville Althoff.
"I want to say something about Breanne," said Fenwick coach Dave Power,
who picked up his 570th career victory in the semifinal. "She expends a
lot of energy on defense, which takes away from the offense."
Lawless had a game-high 34 points—matching her jersey number—against
Althoff, but Smilie finished with 20 points and Heidloff 13 and six
assists. Their eight threes tied a Class AA record for a state finals
Lisch (20 points, 10 rebounds) scored 10 of the Crusaders' last 12 points
in the first half to cut a 16-point Fenwick lead to six at 34-28. But two
threes by Smilie and a three by Heidloff in the first six minutes of the
second half had the Friars ahead 55-36.
Birthday girl: Naperville Central freshman Erica Carter had more reasons
to celebrate other than her eight points, four steals and two rebounds in
the victory over Regina. She turned 15 Saturday.
"Erica Carter doesn't play like a freshman," Redhawks coach Andy Nussbaum
said. "I don't know how many rebounds she had, but she seemed to get every
She also sank two free throws with 2:43 left to help Central hang on.
Coaches' choices: The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-State
teams were announced and there were few surprises. On the 10-member first
team were Parker, Fenwick's Erin Lawless, Peoria Woodruff's Britney
Jordan, Belleville Althoff's Lisch, Trinity's Caprice Smith, Marian
Catholic's Lauren Lacey, York's Krystal Hugelier, Effingham's Blair
Hardiek, Neuqua Valley's Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton and Niles North's Natasha
Chicago-area players on the second team were Fenwick's Heidloff, Regina's
Quaye, Marian Catholic's Missy Mitidiero, Joliet Catholic's Allie Quigley,
Oak Park's Aubrey Hampton, Bolingbrook's Chloe Kerr and Warren's Amy
Three-point queen: Buffalo Grove's Kelly McIntyre, a 5-9 junior who was
the last shooter to qualify for the Country Companies Class AA Three-point
Showdown, won the big schools title by hitting 10 of her 15 attempts. But
she fell just short in her battle with the small schools' champ, Decatur
St. Teresa's Christi Blackburn, for the "queen of the hill" title.
Blackburn hit seven to McIntyre's six.
St. Patrick's Day queen: Jaime Dineen, who played for father Tom at
Buffalo Grove before going on to St. Mary's of Notre Dame, has been chosen
Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Queen.
"She's a perfect fit, with the red hair and all," said Dineen of his
daughter, who also played volleyball in college and will be getting
married in August.
Jaime Dineen will appear in two parades—Chicago's on Saturday and the
South Side Irish parade on March 16.