Schaumburg tips Waubonsie Valley in OT to reach Neibch title game

Schaumburg girls basketball coach Jacqie Strauch has been looking for a signature-type win from her team this season.

Wednesday night was that night.

The Saxons (10-7) advanced to the championship game of the Bill Neibch Falcon Holiday Classic at Wheaton North with a hard-fought, 62-60 overtime victory over Waubonsie Valley (12-2).

Schaumburg, looking for its first Falcon Holiday Classic title since 2005, will face defending champion Glenbrook South (14-2) in Thursday's 7:30 p.m. clash.

Against Waubonsie Valley, the Saxons controlled the first half, taking a 34-23 lead at the intermission behind junior guard Grace Schluckbier's 12 points.

Schaumburg led by as many as 14 at 37-23 on a 3-pointer from junior Madi Dolecki (game-high 20 points, 8 rebounds) in the early stages of the third quarter.

However, Strauch had warned her team at halftime that no lead was big enough.

"We knew because they're (the Warriors) that type of team," said the coach. "They're going to get hot. They have four positions that shoot the three. We told our team, 'There's a comeback coming our way,' and we have to be prepared for it."

Waubonsie, led by senior Taylor Curry (16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocked shots), whittled the deficit to 5 at 49-44 after 3 quarters.

The Warriors continued their comeback, as Lily Newton (12 points) began the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 49-47. Then, freshman guard Danyella Mporokoso (13 points) knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers a few moments later to tie it at 53-all.

Senior guard Khahliah Reid (14 points) hit the team's fourth 3-pointer in 3 minutes to give the Warriors a 56-55 lead. Mporokoso's layup expanded the margin to 58-55 with 3:50 remaining.

Schaumburg answered with a game-tying 3-pointer from Schluckbier, and Harrell's layup with 1:37 left forced overtime.

Junior guard Jada Branch's layup on the Saxons' first possession wound up being the only points of the 4-minute extra session.

"I can honestly say this group hasn't had one of those wins in a long time," said Strauch. "Today, they kept it together in a tough situation. I'm so proud of them that they were able to pull off that win."

Branch added 13 points while Harrell provided 12 points, 13 rebounds and tenacious defense for the Saxons.

"It was stressful, but our team pulled through," said Harrell. "We needed to prove to ourselves that we can be in these tough games and tough situations."

Another tough game awaits in the title clash on Thursday night.

"I've never done it in my career here at Schaumburg so I'm obviously super excited," Strauch said of her team making it to the tourney finals. "We knew we're going to face a great team in Glenbrook South."

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