Fenton celebrates playoff win

They live and die by the 3-point shot.

In fact the Fenton girls basketball team has broken the national record for 3-point shot attempts in a season now two years running.

"Whenever we're open, we shoot from anywhere in the gym," said Bison coach Dave Mello. "We just need to work on the making them part."

And while it may have taken a while to materialize, it was more timing than anything on a dreary Monday evening when Fenton escaped with a 49-48 victory over 18th-seeded North Chicago in the Class 3A Antioch regional quarterfinals.

The 15th-seeded Bison (12-20) move on to play second-seeded Vernon Hills in Antioch at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

With 15 seconds left in regulation, senior guard Ashley Milano left no doubt as she canned a 3 to put her team ahead 49-48. North Chicago couldn't get a shot off and Fenton lived to see another day.

"It felt great. It was the first time I ever celebrated my own 3-pointer. This win really fired us up," said Milano, who finished with 6 points. North Chicago (3-27) actually tied the game with 20 seconds left after a layup by Gianna Hill, who led all scorers with 27 points.

"We knew (Hill) was quick," Mello said. "We toned down our press and she still gave us a headache."

The Warhawks played spirited basketball and held the slim lead most of the fourth period.

But after going 1 for 21 from behind the arc in the first half, Fenton drained 7 of 14 in the second half, including 5 in the crazy third quarter in which it outscored the Warhawks 21-13.

"Anytime you can go 50 percent for a half, you're happy," Mello said.

Trailing 19-16 at half, North Chicago looked like it would put the game on ice, starting the third with a 6-0 run to build a 25-16 advantage.

But Fenton answered right back with an 11-2 run, culminating Milano's 3 and a 27-27 deadlock.

Sophomore guards Hailey Miller and Elizabeth Aguirre each nailed 3-pointers during the run.

"Once the first one went in, it started a domino effect," said Milano, who had her other 3 in the third.

There was a lid on the basket in the first half. The turnover bug plagued both teams as well. Miller's rebound and layup gave Fenton a 7-5 lead after one quarter.

There were five lead changes in the second quarter, which ended with North Chicago holding a slim halftime advantage.

Aguirre made the lone 3 in the first half.

"We've been on spurts like tonight, but we just kept on playing," Mello said. "For this young group to hang in there, it's something we can build on."

Miller scored 11 points. Freshman guard Kaitlyn Hoffing and Aguirre each netted 9 points to add to a balanced scoring attack. Junior forward Brianna Tellez added 5, all in the third, and freshman Adriana Rocha added 4.

"We have eight freshmen and sophomores on the team, but it was great for a senior (Milano) to hit the big shot," Mello said.

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