CARY – Cary-Grove had been in this position before against Crystal Lake South.
The Gators had already beaten the Trojans twice this season, including once in overtime, and they started well enough for yet another win in Wednesday's regional semifinal. South took a nine-point lead into the second quarter, but the Trojans, on their homecourt, put together an effort that left second-seeded South reeling.
The No. 3-seeded Trojans' 20-point outburst in the second quarter gave them the lead at halftime, which they never relinquished en route to a 57-45 win. C-G (18-11) advances to Friday's regional final against top-seeded Prairie Ridge.
"We mixed things up quite a bit defensively to give them different looks," C-G coach Rod Saffert said. "We had, in our opinion, a better gameplan defensively for each one of their players."
While junior Katie Barker led C-G in scoring with 15 points, the Trojans got much needed scoring from senior Ashley Glaysher and production off the bench (21 points). Glaysher finished with 13 points while sophomore forward Brianne Prank scored seven points off the bench.
"Especially in the postseason, the seniors know this is our last season so we need to put everything into it," Glaysher said. "Everyone's looking to score and wants to be a part of the win so I think we're all going really hard at it."
The Gators (16-13) briefly tied the game at 38 with 3:16 left in the third quarter on Chanel Fanter's 3-pointer. However, C-G closed the quarter on a 6-0 run and extended its lead to double digits early in the fourth, which South couldn't recover from.
Senior forward Sara Mickow led South with 16 points while Fanter and senior guard Rachel Rasmussen finished with 13 and 11 points respectively. Mickow eclipsed 1,000 career points during the first quarter with a pair of free throws.
"They just outplayed us both on offense and defense tonight," South coach Kyle McCaughn said. "My kids played their hearts out. Can't ask anymore of them. They just got outplayed tonight."