Girls Basketball: KC Stralka leads Loyola past Glenbrook South
Updated: February 23, 2012 9:21PM
K.C. Stralka’s three-pointer late in the third quarter started Loyola on the road to victory Thursday at New Trier, but the senior’s two blocks in the final minute steered the Ramblers to the 31-26 win over Glenbrook South.
Fourth-seeded Loyola (25-7) won its first sectional championship since 2006 and will play Wheeling on Monday at Stevenson for a chance to get to the state tournament for the first time since 1999. The 14th-seeded Wildcats beat Zion-Benton 50-45 to advance out of the Palatine Sectional.
“For our five seniors, especially Michelle Ricolcol and Lauren Kriz, who have been with me for three years, there is no better way for them to go out,” said Loyola coach Jeremy Schoenecker.
Anna Schueler’s three-pointer with 1:31 to go in the third quarter gave Loyola its first lead of the game, and the Ramblers never let go.
Ricolcol upped the advantage to 27-22 with her three 32 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Third-seeded Glenbrook South (23-8) couldn’t crack Loyola’s defense, which has been dominant in the playoffs, and never got closer than three points the rest of the way. The Titans went nearly nine minutes between points in the second half.
Loyola hasn’t allowed more than 31 points in the playoffs so far.
After Stralka missed a free throw to keep it a three-point game, she blocked a shot in the lane on the other end. Colleen McShane followed with one free throw to put Loyola ahead 30-26 with 32.7 seconds remaining.
Stralka then blocked a three-point shot to keep Loyola in control.
“We wanted to win it for all those other players who didn’t,” said Stralka, who scored a team-best 10 points. “For me, making those big plays at the end made it so much sweeter.”
Ricolcol iced the win by stealing the ball and making one free throw with 3.5 seconds to go.
“When we got that first lead, we wanted to keep pushing it,” she said.
Glenbrook South played without Colleen McDonagh, who broke her left wrist during the team’s Tuesday win over Niles West. Abby Keller was big early, scoring nine of her game-high 11 points in the first half to give Glenbrook South a 16-11 lead at the half.