All game long, Schaumburg guards Amanda Kelly and Riley Williams led the Saxons past Proviso West's three-quarter court trap.
And when the Saxons faced their first deficit of the evening with 1:34 left in regulation, the senior duo lead in a different way.
"They bring us together," said Schaumburg sophomore Jada Blackwell. "They get us to huddle up and get our composure back and keep us going."
The host Saxons responded well to the adversity as Kelly scored a game-high 26 points and Williams added 11 and both hit key free throws down the stretch to help No. 10 Schaumburg defeat No. 7 Proviso West 60-55 in overtime in the Schaumburg 4A Regional semifinal.
Schaumburg (15-14) advances to Thursday night's regional final against No. 2 Willowbrook, a 44-21 winner over No. 15 Glenbard West.
Kelly and Williams, who each played all 36 minutes, combined to go 6-for-8 from the free throw line in overtime while making sure the Saxons had quality possessions against a swarming Panther defense.
"They're the dynamic duo," said Schaumburg coach Ashley Berggren.
"They're going to fight until the end and give it everything they have. They've really stepped up in their leadership roles, and they've taken this team to another level."
Schaumburg closed the third quarter on an 8-0 run, capped by Carly Brossard's rebound and bucket at the buzzer, to pull ahead 42-32. But the major question was how the Saxons would respond when Proviso West's Mikaela Boyd scored 5 points in a 19-second span to put the Panthers (17-9) up 51-49.
"We didn't really panic," Kelly said. "We've been in tight situations before and that really just helped us out there."
Schaumburg started by going inside to Brossard, who was fouled and knocked down two free throws to even the score with 1:18 left in regulation.
Brittany Reinhart's steal got the Saxons the ball back, and they worked the clock all the way down. Reinhart missed with 8 seconds left but Blackwell (13 points, 6 rebounds) snuck in on the weak side to grab the rebound and draw the foul.
"My girl left me to go help," Blackwell said. "The backside is always open and I always look for backside rebounds."
Blackwell connected on both, but Boyd, who tallied 17 points and 9 steals, raced end-to-end and just beat the buzzer with a layup to send the game into overtime.
Schaumburg hit 9 three-pointers, led by 5 from Kelly, but in the extra session they were patient and scored all 7 of their points from the free throw line.
"We've had overtimes at the end of the season," Kelly said. "We knew that if we held on to it, didn't turn it over and took good shots, like not jacking up 3's, that'd be smart."
Brossard chipped in 10 points and 8 rebounds and did an excellent job in limiting 6-foot-5 Taylor Pate (11 points, 13 rebounds) after she scored 8 early points.
"This is an exciting time and we're just fortunate to play in a regional championship," Berggren said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.