DEKALB — For one quarter Monday night the Westminster Christian girls basketball team shut down and frustrated Freeport Aquin and its star, Sophie Brunner.
But much of the final 24 minutes belonged to the Bulldogs.
Westminster held Brunner scoreless and forced Aquin into 8 turnovers in the first quarter to lead 10-5. Brunner then scored 9 points in the second quarter to lead the Bulldogs on a game-changing 12-0 run as Aquin ended the Warriors’ season 57-39 in the Class 1A DeKalb supersectional.
“I’m really sad the season is over. It doesn’t seem real yet,” Westminster junior Claire Speweik said. “I think our effort was tremendous. We played our hardest. That’s all we could have done.”
The historical season for the Warriors (26-5) ends one step from the state semifinals. Aquin (31-3) is the defending Class 1A state champion and the top-ranked team in the state.
Westminster, which has no seniors on the roster, showed it can play with the state’s best. Freshman Maddie Versulys scored 5 points and Spewiek had 4 in the first quarter. Brunner, a senior who is heading to Arizona State, was 0-for-2 from the field as the Bulldogs had a hard time getting the ball inside to her thanks to the Warriors’ defense.
“I didn’t see them do anything that we shouldn’t have been able to handle,” Aquin coach Jeff Curry said. “The pressure of getting downstate again. I don’t think, as kids, they handled it very well (in the first quarter).”
Brunner hit back-to-back baskets — her first points of the game — in a 15-second span to tie the game at 10-10 with 5:07 remaining in the first half. After a Versulys basket, Aquin’s Katie Stykel hit a 3-pointer with 3:53 to go to give the Bulldogs a 13-12 lead, their first since 2-1 early in the first quarter. Stykel’s 3-pointer started a 12-0 run with Brunner adding 6 more points and Elayna Erdmier hit a 3-pointer to cap the run as Aquin took a 22-12 lead with 1:57 remaining in the first half.
“Tonight we just never got into the flow on the offensive end,” Westminster coach Ken Flickinger said. “We needed a few more shots to fall. We needed to hit a couple of big shots. That just never really happened.”
The Warriors trailed 23-16 at halftime. Consecutive baskets from Versulys, who led Westminster with 21 points and 10 rebounds, got the Warriors within 3, 23-20, with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter. Aquin had the lead back up to 9 less than 3 minutes later. Westminster wouldn’t get any closer than 6 the rest of the game.
“We had a blast as a team this whole season,” Versulys said. “We played our hardest on the court. We lost, but we had fun together.”
Brunner finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds, 8 steals and 5 blocks. Erdmier added 14 points and Haley Chang had 10.
Speweik had 8 points for the Warriors.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.