SOMONAUK — Aurora Central Catholic finished Sandwich’s Cinderella story run in the Class 2A Somonauk Regional last Friday, winning 47-40.
In a physical game in which teams totaled 39 fouls combined, the Indians’ push late in the second half challenged the Chargers. The Chargers (18-14) survived behind freshman guard Sofia Corral’s 15 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
“I knew this wasn’t going to happen unless everyone pitched in,” Corral said. “We are a team and we work very well together. As a point guard, it’s up to you to lead your team and unleash that offensive move to get things going.
Sandwich fought offensively in the first half, trailing 17-8 at the break and putting several players into early foul trouble. The Indians picked up 21 points with better composure in the third quarter, but they couldn’t handle a similar rally on defense.
“In the first half I probably should have taken a timeout earlier and got our girls ready,” said Sandwich coach Randy Malloy. “That would have given me a chance to collect myself and do what we had to do. Half time was very necessary for us because we could compose ourselves.”
Junior forward Clarie Allen led Sandwich (11-23) with 14 points as the heart of the Indians’ physical game. In the second quarter, an Allen elbow left Chargers junior guard KK Nash’s nose bloody and increased the intensity of the game.
“Allen was a handful inside,” said Aurora Central Catholic coach LeVada Smith. “I thought they tried to bully us around a bit in the first half and the result was low as a result. I think what happened in the second half is that our conditioning kicked in and that’s where we started scoring and playing better defense.
The rough and turbulent nature of the game was evident in the first quarter as Sandwich ended the period with a 6-5 lead. The Indians managed just two points in the second quarter to a basket from elder forward Molly Roberts.
Nash finished the game with a free throw before having to leave the game to tend to her Allen elbow injuries. Coming back, she made two baskets to help the Chargers take a nine-point lead at halftime.
Roberts, Allen and youngster Alyssa Broce all made three-pointers for the Indians in the third quarter. The Chargers also had plenty of offense behind baskets from Corral and freshman forward Riley Cwinski, who finished with 10 points. At the end of the period, the Chargers led 34-29.
The Indians’ shooting went cold to open the fourth, resulting in the Chargers extending the lead to 47-40 by the finals.
The Chargers play Winnebago in the Class 2A Johnsburg Sectional Semifinals Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
The defeat for Sandwich marks the end of an underdog story in the Somonauk region. After the Indians won their regional quarterfinal, the Indians beat the two-seed regional St. Edward 43-36 in Tuesday’s semifinal round.
Despite the latest record, Malloy said the team’s change in attitude after Christmas helped prepare them to reach the regional finals.
“At Christmas, I basically said to the girls, ‘Let’s treat this like a new year,'” Malloy said. “We had to realign, so we all realigned to Regionals. Since Christmas they have a new mentality and it was so great to see them coming to training smiling and laughing, having a great time and working really hard.”