CRYSTAL LAKE – With 45 seconds left in Monday’s Class 4A Prairie Ridge Regional first-round game, Crystal Lake South senior Lauren Schoen left the basketball court for the final time in her high school career.
As she neared the bench, she was greeted with hugs from teammates, one-by-one, and as she came to the end of the line of white jerseys, tears began to flow down her cheeks. She gently wiped those tears away with her jersey, sat down, then took a huge, deep breath.
It was an emotional ending to Crystal Lake South’s season, as the eighth-seeded Gators (7-21) fell to No. 9
seed Streamwood, 40-21, despite Schoen’s eight-point, 15-rebound night.
“All of my teammates are genuinely nice human beings,” Schoen said. “And great friends. Same thing with our coaches. They’ve all helped me grow up in the (three) years I’ve been on varsity, and I’ve really matured a lot these past several seasons by being a part of this program.
“But tonight was tough for me. Going into the postseason, you never know when it’s going to be your last game. I wanted to give it everything I had. The ball wasn’t falling in the basket for us (South shot 9 for 42 from the field) as much as we would’ve liked, so I tried to affect the game in other ways,”
Schoen was particularly dominant creating second-chance opportunities in the lane. Nine of her 15 rebounds came on the offensive glass, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Streamwood’s red-hot 3-point shooting early on.
The Sabres (8-19) were 7 for 13 from beyond the arc in the first half. By contrast, they shot a meager 20 percent (2 of 10) from 2-point range during that same span.
It was the difference in the game, as South held Streamwood to 30.2 percent shooting (13 for 43) and outrebounded the Sabres by a commanding 35-21 margin.
“It’s just a shame we couldn’t convert some of those second-chance opportunities, because we had a ton of them,” Gators coach Mark Mucha said. “These girls worked so hard this season to keep improving. It’s too bad we couldn’t pull out a win.”
Despite the loss, the future looks bright for the Gators, who had only one other senior, Vasi Prokos, on their roster. South also started a pair of freshmen in Ava Sevcik and Brooke Kuffel (six points, five rebounds, three assists).
“I fully expect this team to turn a huge corner next season,” Prokos said. “They’re young, and despite this year being a big learning experience, you could see how close everyone was to putting it all together late in the year. I’m going to miss all my teammates a ton. They mean the world to me.”
Streamwood, which got a game-high 14 points and nine rebounds from senior Andrea Bracy, and 13 points from Maddi Exline, lost to the Gators early in the regular season. But now they face top-seeded McHenry at 6 p.m. Tuesday in a regional semifinal.
“McHenry is a No. 1 seed for a reason,” Streamwood coach George Rosner said. “We’re going to have to limit them to one shot per possession if we want to have any hope of an upset. But I think we’ll be able to score some points against them, so our defense is going to be critical.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Crystal Lake South, sr., G
Schoen gave it everything she had in her final varsity game with a team-best eight-point, 15-rebound effort.
7: The number of 3-pointers Streamwood made in the game’s first 10:30. They led by as many as 23 at one point.
AND ANOTHER THING
All 40 of Streamwood’s points were scored by its starting five. The Sabres didn’t make a substitution until 1:44 of the first quarter, and subbed sparingly after that.
Streamwood 40, Crystal Lake South 21
Streamwood 15 11 8 6 – 40
Crystal Lake South 9 2 2 8 – 21
Bracy 5 1-4 14, Exline 4 2-2 13, Roncone 2 1-2 7, Mien 2 2-2 6, Brown 0 0-0 0, Rojas 0 0-0 0, Vegujilla 0 0-0 0, Patel 0 0-0 0, Angle 0 0-0 0, Kopko 0 0-0 0, Hedger 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 6-10 40.
Crystal Lake South (21)
Schoen 3 0-0 8, Kuffel 3 0-0 6, Sevcik 1 1-2 3, Bush 1 0-0 2, Sulikowski 1 0-0 2, Trier 0 0-0 0, Lawson 0 0-0 0, Swartz 0 0-0 0, Lehman 0 0-0 0, Prokos 0 0-0 0, Doyle 0 0-0 0. Totals: 9 1-2 21.
3-point field goals: Streamwood 8 (Bracy 3, Exline 3, Roncone 2). Crystal Lake South 2 (Schoen 2).
Total team fouls: Streamwood 9, Crystal Lake South 9.
Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.