West Chicago smartly slowed the pace early, and threw a scare into Bartlett late.
Beating the Hawks was another story.
No. 1 seed and top-ranked Bartlett advanced to the round of 16 for the second time in three years, getting 23 points from Indiana-bound Haley Videckis to grind out a 52-46 win at Monday's Class 4A Hoffman Estates girls basketball sectional.
Bartlett (29-1), seeking its first sectional championship since placing second in Class AA in 2005, will face Wheaton Warrenville South (28-3) in Thursday's 7:30 p.m. final. WWS defeated Geneva 54-37 in Monday's second semifinal.
This one was nothing like Bartlett's 77-49 romp over West Chicago in December. The fifth-seeded Wildcats (16-13), who usually like to play fast, took a minute off the clock in their first possession and milked time subsequent trips down.
“It was definitely a shock at first,” Videckis said. “They were a completely different team than the one we prepared for.”
West Chicago, which was blitzed 40-10 in the first half of the first meeting, was in no mood to roll over in the rematch.
A 16-2 Bartlett run capped by a Kristin Conniff 3-pointer gave the Hawks a 22-4 lead, but a five-point West Chicago last possession of the first half broke that momentum.
Trailing 42-25 with 5:52 left in the game, West Chicago snapped off a 12-1 run sparked by Claire Monroe and Laura Panicali 3s to make it 43-37 with 3:15 left.
After a Bartlett turnover, West Chicago had a 3 attempt to pull closer rim out.
“We never gave up,” West Chicago coach Kim Wallner said, “we made a little run at them and I think we got them a little rattled. You never know. We got it to where we wanted it to get.”
Its transition game slowed, Bartlett more than made up for it in the post. Six-footers Videckis, Conniff (12 points) and Lisa Palmer (10 points) had their way inside against a West Chicago team with one starter taller than 5-foot-8. When the Hawks needed a score, they knew where to go.
“You have to take advantage of the weaknesses of other teams,” said Videckis, also a clutch 10-of-11 at the free throw line. “Tonight it was height. I thought our whole team really worked together to get it inside.”
Bartlett's defense, given the methodical pace, was up to the challenge in the first half — allowing just the 9 points while forcing 13 turnovers. It wasn't the finish to the game Hawks coach Denise Sarna had in mind, but she'll take it.
“Would I say it was our best game? It was good enough,” Sarna said. “We didn't play the kind of defense we're capable of playing the entire game.”
Videckis, like her teammates sporting a black headband, showed no ill effects of the 12 stitches she received to cover a gash on her forehead suffered last Thursday.
Now Videckis and the four other senior starters set out to take care of some unfinished business in the sectional final.
“This is what basketball players dream of,” Sarna said. “We know we're going to face a good team and it should be a good game.”
Panicali scored 15 points and Monroe 13 for West Chicago, which became just the fourth team to hold Bartlett under 55 points this year.
“We tried to keep it in the 40s. That was our goal,” Wallner said. “Our goal was to slow the transition game, which is very difficult. We made them work a little, but their size got to us. I'm proud of my girls.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.