Sinclair, Hare lead Bartlett to 4th straight UEC crown

Lexie Sinclair is not one to rest on her laurels.

Prior to Thursday night's game against Upstate Eight Conference rival South Elgin, the Bartlett senior guard spent some valuable time working on her shooting.

"I actually went to shoot right before the game," said Sinclair, who scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds during the Hawks' 64-48 victory over the Storm (8-6, 6-3) in Bartlett.

"It was nice to see the ball go through the basket."

When she wasn't diving on the floor for loose balls or making no-look passes to her teammates, Sinclair displayed her shooting range with four 3-point baskets - 3 of them coming in the opening half when the Hawks (10-3, 8-0) jumped out to a 34-25 advantage.

"She gets us going," said Bartlett coach Kristi Ragan. "She makes everyone more confident, and she makes everyone better."

Led by 9 points from junior Caroline Croft (11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) and 6 early points from sophomore Zoie Lewis (12 points, 8 rebounds), South Elgin battled toe-to-toe with the Hawks, trailing 19-18 after one quarter.

The Storm led 23-21 midway through the second quarter following a 3-pointer from sophomore Chloe Kmiec before the Hawks closed the first half on a 13-2 run over the final 3 ½ minutes.

That surge included a pair of 3-pointers by Sinclair and a pair of inside buckets from senior Kylie Walker (4 points, 14 rebounds).

"Zoie (Lewis) getting her third foul in the first quarter - that killed us," said Storm coach Dan Mandernack. "She scored 6 points right away. "I told them at halftime that even with Zoie in foul trouble, if they (Hawks) don't go on that run at the end, you're looking at a 2-, 3-point game. It didn't feel like a 16-point loss."

South Elgin, which committed just 1 first-half turnover, pulled within 41-33 late in the third quarter before the Hawks' Mackenzie Hare (game-high 27 points) knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers over the final 1:18 to extend their lead to 52-33.

"We were trying to switch up defenses, giving them different looks and trying to make it (the pace) as quick as possible," said Ragan, whose team forced 9 third-quarter turnovers.

Ella Winterhalder paced the Storm with 13 points.

"When you play a team like that with two unbelievable D-1 players (Sinclair and Hare), you can't miss layups and you can't turn the ball over or else it's just going to catch up to you," said Mandernack.

"We're super young. We're going to take this and learn from it."

Bartlett, meanwhile, claimed its fourth straight conference championship.

"That was the goal coming into the season," said Sinclair. "I did not want to lose a conference game this year."

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