IC Catholic Prep advances to 2A sectional final

Somehow Immaculate Conception Catholic Prep sophomore forward Allie Geiger made everyone else on the court Tuesday night appear as if they were moving in slow motion.

There was just no stopping the 5-foot-10 Geiger, who helped power the Knights to a 53-34 defeat of Joliet Catholic Academy in the first of two Class 2A sectional semifinals played at Timothy Christian. With the win, top-seeded ICCP improved to 24-8 on the year and will take on the winner of the late game Tuesday between Timothy Christian and Chicago Noble-Butler.

Geiger, who finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, at one point had outscored the Angels single-handedly 17-13 as the Knights built a 30-13 lead in the third quarter.

"She's a super hard worker," Angles coach Kaitlyn Williams said after Geiger saw to it that JCA's season came to a close. "She did everything for them. She scored a lot and she out rebounded us."

Both teams started a majority of underclassmen in the game, but ICCP was just too tough, what with three strong sophomores playing well and the steady leadership and strong play of senior Claire Wagner, who added 13 rebounds to join forces with Geiger to dominate the glass.

"We work really hard for position and we focus on rebounding a lot," said Geiger. "We've been working really hard in practice and I think we deserve to be where we're at."

Knights coach Todd Fisher knows he's spoiled having two superb athletes in the paint coming away with rebound after rebound and giving his team second and third chances on the offensive end on a regular basis.

"We call them the twin towers and we know that Claire and Allie can take over a game," Fisher said. "But this was an awesome team win. That's a very good Joliet Catholic team we just beat."

The Knights did more than just grab rebounds. Wagner had 13 points to go with her 13 boards, Geiger did much of her scoring down low with a variety of strong drives and short turnaround jumpers, and Analisa Raffaelli hit a pair of 3-pointers while adding 11 points.

"Obviously everyone knows about Claire, but if you focus on her we've got other weapons," Fisher said. "Allie and Claire feed off one another and Analisa had a great game tonight as well."

For JCA (6-19), Elena Czerkies led the way with 10 points and 3 steals, Layla Pierce had 8 points, and Braejah Grindle-Stocking added 6 points and 6 boards off the bench.

"We start all sophomores and freshmen so we'll have them all back next year," Williams said. "But we usually outwork our opponents and today we got outworked and outrebounded."

In the first half, JCA took a 6-1 lead following 3s from Czerkies and Pierce, but ICCP rallied to take an 11-9 lead after one quarter and then extended the margin to 21-13 at the half behind the strong play of Geiger.

The forward led all players with 11 points through two quarters and also pulled in 9 rebounds. Her and Wagner combined for 9 offensive boards in the first half as the Knights hurt the Angels with second-chance points. ICCP's first basket of the night came when Geiger's putback followed three misses and three offensive rebounds by the team.

Butler College Prep 48, Timothy Christian 45:

They weren't really expected to win, but that's not to say there weren't plenty of tears from the Timothy Christian players when the final horn ended a thrilling game as well as their season.

The Trojans battled top-seeded Butler College Prep to the wire before coming up on the short end of a 48-45 score in the second of two Class 2A sectional semifinals played Tuesday night in Elmhurst. Timothy Christian closes out the year at 14-16 but not before putting a major scare into the Lady Lynx from Chicago.

"If we had to lose the game, we went out on a high note, playing as hard as you can. They didn't back up an inch and they executed our game plan well," Trojans coach Jill Groenewold said. "If we could have just controlled No. 1 for one more possession."

The No. 1 Groenewold was referring to is sophomore Xamiya Walton, who tallied a game-high 27 points for Butler, which will now take a 25-9 record into Thursday's sectional title against Immaculate Conception College Prep. Walton and University of Illinois-bound Camille Jackson combined to score 44 of their team's 48 points on the night.

Even so, the Trojans led 23-20 at the half and the game was tied at 36-36 after three quarters, which set up a back-and-forth, down-to-the-wire finish. Maddie Drye gave Timothy Christian a 39-38 lead with a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, but that was the hosts' final lead of the night as Walton and Jackson were just too tough down the stretch and the taller Lady Lynx squad hung on.

"Definitely they had us in the height department," said Drye, a junior who finished with 15 points on the night. "I don't think a lot of people felt we really had a chance today. But we came out with a lot of courage, and we really focused on never giving up."

Another junior, Grace Roland, added 14 points and like Drye, she'll anchor next year's squad.

"We just did all we could and we left it all out there," Roland said. "We had nothing to lose. Everyone just played together. Everyone worked hard for moments like this. We'll definitely take this into preparation for next year and use this for motivation when we get back in the gym."

For the Lady Lynx, the win marked history for Chicago's Noble programs.

"I'm glad to see we were able to come back and find a way to get a W. I'm so proud. This is Noble League history, the first team to win a sectional game," coach Xaver Walton said. "Just a great, great game."

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