Girls Basketball: Bolingbrook picks up pace vs Neuqua ValleyBolingbrook's Cabriana Capers dribbles behind her back as she moves up court against Neuqua Valley during their Sectional matchup in Naperville on Tuesday, February 20, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 21, 2012 11:08PM
Halfway through the first quarter things didn’t look bad for host Neuqua Valley against three-time defending state champ Bolingbrook in Tuesday night’s Class 4A sectional semifinal.
The Wildcats were ahead 5-4, and they were playing with the intensity they needed to challenge the bigger and more experienced Raiders.
By the end of that first quarter the result was out of the Wildcats’ hands as Bolingbrook surged to an 18-7 lead.
By halftime it was 39-20, and while the Bolingbrook victory was a foregone conclusion, both teams never stopped hustling, never stopped battling on the boards and they continued to play with discipline as the Raiders went on to a 76-37 win that puts them in Thursday’s sectional final.
“Bolingbrook won by the scoreboard but we won in heart and determination,” said Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams, whose Wildcats (23-7) were coming off their first regional championship since 2006.
“The regional championship was our goal for the season,” Neuqua’s Megan Doody said. “We lost to a very good team tonight, but we gave it everything we had. We went in with as much energy as we had and we have to just look at this game as another memory for Amber (Smith) and me in our Neuqua Valley career.”
The top-ranked Raiders (23-1), who dominated the game as they’ve done against many of their opponents, were led by their talented inside players Morgan Tuck and Nia Moore and outside shooter supreme Allie Hill, all of whom finished with 17 points. Hill hit five three-pointers, Tuck pulled down 11 boards and Moore blocked five Wildcats shots. Keiera Ray added 13 points for the Raiders.
“Bolingbrook is really good,” Williams said. “Their size hurt us a little, but we were in the game early and we were never intimidated. If we played every game with the intensity we played with tonight, this would have been our only loss.”
Allison Hedrick led the Wildcats with nine points, and seniors Doody and Amber Smith finished their Neuqua careers with seven and five points, respectively.
Bolingbrook coach Tony Smith praised the Wildcats for their spirit and their tenacity.
“It was a sectional semifinal and they came out and played hard against us,” he said. “We try to bring the intensity for 32 minutes. Nia is getting better and better. She works hard and she has tremendous upside. Morgan gets all the publicity and she’s earned it. But we have other kids like Nia who can play.”
“Our defense could have been a little better,” Moore said. “But our teamwork was strong. We look for each other.”