Girls Basketball: Plano battles back to top Aurora ChristianPlano's Zhate Jackson shoots under pressure from Aurora Christian's Alyssa Andersen in their regional semifinal Wednesday in Plano.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 8, 2012 10:38PM
For about a month, the goal for Plano’s girls basketball team has been simple: Win a regional title.
Thursday, the Reapers will get that chance.
Plano erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to roar back and knock off Aurora Christian in the Class 2A Plano Regional semifinals, 38-35.
That sets up a shot at top-seeded Aurora Central Catholic on the Reapers’ home floor at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The win also improved Plano to 16-14 overall, guaranteeing a winning season.
“Everything has been feeding toward regionals,” Plano coach Mario Serra said. “All of a sudden, they’re seeing that this is real. They understand what I’m talking about now, what a big deal this is. They’re so happy.”
Early in the fourth quarter, however, it was Aurora Christian (11-15) that looked like it was setting up a date with ACC Thursday. The Eagles started the fourth quarter off with a 10-3 run, capped by Sarina Oleson’s short jumper, to take a 35-27 lead, and it looked like they were about to put Plano away.
“Truthfully, I could have sworn we were about to lose,” said Plano junior Tachae Miles, who led all scorers with 16 points. “But we weren’t down but a lot and we could come back, and when I saw that we were coming back, we knew we had to keep up our intensity because we could still get it.”
Miles started off the comeback with a rebound put-back, one of three for the Reapers down the stretch, the others coming from Zhate Jackson and Clarissa Martinez (13 rebounds, six blocked shots). But the big blow came from a freshman, Temirra Ellis.
After Plano had missed its first eight three-point attempts as a team, Ellis stepped up and drilled a three-pointer as part of the Reapers’ game-ending 11-0 run that cut the Aurora Christian lead to one and swung the momentum to Plano once and for all. Martinez’s rebound put-back and two free throws from Miles gave the Reapers the lead and a three-point cushion.
“Threes are such a killer,” Serra said. “She’s hesitant sometimes to shoot that, especially if she’s missed one. She has the green light.”
After the game, Aurora Christian coach Jerry Tokars could only lament taking his team out of its man-to-man defense and switching to a zone when the Eagles were holding their eight-point lead.
“I’ll take the hit on this one,” Tokars said. “I stayed in that one possession too long. The pressure was working, but we had people in foul trouble, so I thought zone, but I stayed in it too long. That’s the bottom line.”
Alyssa Henzel led the Eagles with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Aurora Christian improved last season’s win total by four.
“We talk a lot about building the program, and this year, we took another step,” Tokars said.
Meanwhile, Plano will get a chance to host a regional title game on its home floor.
“This is exciting,” Miles said. “This is one of our goals, to get a regional banner, so we’re going to work really hard for it.”