3-pointers cushion Naperville C. win

Tribune staff reporter

March 8, 2003, 10:13 PM CST
Without Parker, Carter, Crissy build halftime lead
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 seconds left.

"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 rebounds.

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 weekend.

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 critical one."

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 Williams.

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 Peters.

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.

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