St. Charles East beats Wheaton North in OT for sectional title
Emma Yakey airballed the 3-point attempt as the gym held its collective breath.
The St. Charles East junior had only seconds to recover as Lexi DiOrio corralled the rebound and flipped it back to the arc to her outstretched hands.
Yakey swished it. Wheaton North senior Claire Hyde instantly answered with a 3-pointer of her own, but it was ultimately two made free throws apiece by Alexis Maridis and DiOrio at the end that clinched the Saints' first sectional title since 1987 in a heart-pounding 60-54 overtime win in a Class 4A sectional final on Thursday at Bartlett.
Was there any hesitation about shooting it again - nursing a two-point lead in overtime with the sectional title hanging in the balance?
"Our coaches said in the huddle before 'If you're open, shoot it," Yakey said.
The Saints (22-6) advanced to the Class 4A South Elgin supersectional on Monday against Barrington. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
"We really needed something to lift us up," said Yakey, who finished with six points, on her crucial shot. "Our energy was getting down low with their comeback late in the game, but we kept going on runs."
Hyde, who did not score from the field in the sectional semifinal against Batavia, exploded for 31 points in her final high school game. But the Saints were able to stave off a furious Falcons rally that forced overtime.
In regulation with 1:03 remaining and the Saints up 47-45, DiOrio hit one of two free throws. Both teams then traded turnovers, which led to Hyde's game-tying three with 38 seconds left.
DiOrio answered with a three 20 seconds later, but Falcons guard Lindsey Shanahan stunned with a three of her own to tie it at 51-51.
Falcons coach Dave Eaton was awarded a timeout and one second left was put back on the regulation clock, but the Falcons' shot attempt was blocked to go into overtime.
Saints senior guard Torrie Kortan had 21 points, while DiOrio finished with nine points. Calli Papez, who grabbed numerous key rebounds in the fourth quarter, finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Kortan, who has been the Saints' centerpiece since her freshman season, endured 14 combined wins her first two seasons. Her junior season was cut heavily because of the pandemic. She's now worn two basketball nets draped around her neck.
"This means the world; we hadn't won since 1987," Kortan said. " ... I wanted to cry; I wanted to cry when we got that last board. Since we won the game against Geneva, I went home, I showered and I cleaned my [jersey] and I had [it laid out] the next day."
"I was just waiting," Kortan continued. "I was like: 'OK, we're going to play this game; we're going to win."
Wheaton North (22-9) got six points from freshman guard Sara Abdul, while Shanahan had 10 points and six rebounds.
"We knew we had to keep the game in the 30s and 40s," Eaton said. "They're so good offensively. They've got so many weapons. We just played them on Feb. 8 and it was the same kind of tempo and our whole goal was to let it not get to this tempo and they did a great job ... I thought their kids played hard; made some big shots down the stretch."
"Hyde had a heck of a year and career," Eaton continued. "Gutsy. We talk about Claire all the time. Claire is just so gutsy."