After sailing through their first contest with Winnett/Grass Range the Lady Raiders of Hinsdale (25-2) drew the Lady Rebels of Shields Valley (20-6) as their next opponent at state.
The Rebels coming off a 61-56 win over Jordan in the opening round. Hinsdale arrived in the semi-finals by dint of their 54-41 victory over WGR on Thursday.
Whitney Molina, Chadaya Christensen and Bethany Lacock, the Raider's three seniors scored all of Hinsdale's 19 first half points and had 11 of the Raider's 14 rebounds.
Shields Valley scored 20 points to lead by one at the break thanks to the Lady Rebel's Casey McInerney's 11 points.
The score at half time stood Shields Valley 20-19 over Hinsdale.
Molina had nine points at the midway point. Christensen had six and Lacock contributed four. Hinsdale also added two blocked shots and four steals.
Hinsdale pulled away a little in the third act besting the Rebels by five points, 13-8.
Christensen gathered her third foul early in the third period right after Delaney Beil drove the key and put up a shot but found it very tough to raise her arms high enough to shoot with two opponents holding her down.
She got to the line and hit a free throw tying the score at 21.
SV missed a bunny at the other end that Lacock rebounded.
Hinsdale drove down the court and got a hoop and a harm when Molina was fouled at the basket and a two point lead.
On the ensuing play, Christensen nailed a 21 foot bomb that passed through the hoop so fast that the nylon didn't even have time to flip-flop.
The seven point lead quickly disappeared however to just two, 30-28 when Chadaya lobbed a half court pass to Whitney again for yet another basket.
As the game entered the fourth quarter and with a berth to the Big Dance on the line, Hinsdale was in the lead 32-28.
SV started the fourth with a deuce by McInerny but Lacock matched that later with a defensive rebound and a coast to coaster for the deuce.
After SV committed a back court foul, Hinsdale's Courtney Capdeville passed into Lacock who took it to mid court, passed to Molina in the key but she got hammered and drew the foul to go to the line for two shots.
She made them both. 36-30 with five minutes to play.
Christensen got fouled and hit both ends of a one-and-one then at the three minute mark she drew her fourth foul.
The Raiders got to inbound a pass under their own bucket and it want just like this.
Capdeville to Christensen, to Delaney Beil, to Molina, to Lacock, to Whitney, to Lacock and back to Molina who took it up but again got hampered by a couple SV'ers. Whitney hit both ends of the one-and-one.
Then Gagon of Shields Valley got a very nice ORPB that pulled the Rebels to just 7 points behind with a minute-forty left.
Now Shields Valley got into a situation where they were forced to foul just to get the ball back and hope the Raiders would miss their freebies. The Lady Raiders didn't miss very much.
With fiver ticks left on this sheep and a berth to the championship game at stake the Lady Raiders cooled off at the charity stripe hitting just 3 of 6 in the waning seconds but that would be enough.
With just 23 seconds left a Hinsdale player who shall remain nameless committed a foul stopping the clock and giving the enemy a chance at two points.
McInerny hit them both but too little too late and the clock ran down to double zeroes. There were six lead changes and four ties. Hinsdale went 17-29 from the charity stripe while SV went 8-17. Each team committed 12 turnovers.
Hinsdale 48, Shields Valley 41.
Molina came absolutely alive in the second half scoring 19 of her 28 points ( highest by any player in the tournament) in the final 16 minutes.
This was the first time in Hinsdale Lady Raider history that a team has made it to the final game. The boys won it all in 1988.
The title game was here and it didn't take long for the first basket to be made.
Hinsdale's Christensen nailed a long range missile tickling the twine from 22 feet. And later on Whitney Molina hit a three. Payton Chopper came in off the bench and hit a three in the fourth quarter.
In between those plays, there wasn't a bunch of times for Hinsdale's fans to get excited.
Whether they were intimidated by the Belt Legend, or whether they got just had first time jitters, I don't know.
Serene Expressions / For The Courier
The Hinsdale Lady Raiders finished an outstanding season by taking second place in the 3C State tournament. This was the first time the girls team had made it to the championship game. Lady Raiders head coach Ralph Ellsworth and his squad did what many didn't think was possible and now leave Hinsdale fans wondering what next year may bring.
We were warned about making fluffy passes. That Belt would pick them off at will. We did and they did.
Belt put on a defensive clinic much in the style that coach Ellsworth teaches the Lady Raiders. They just did it better.
Hinsdale got out rebounded 37-18.
Hinsdale's shooting was one was ice cold from the floor They hit just 18 percent from the field Belt hit 47 percent of their shots.
Just getting to the big dance was a large step for the Lady Raiders of Hinsdale.
Because of our bench, folks didn't give us much of a chance. They just didn't consider the hearts of these marvelous young ladies. Final score: Belt 63, Hinsdale 18.
Second place isn't all that bad you know.
I am very proud of their accomplishments over the years and wish each and every senior health and happiness in the future.
I feel privileged to have had a very small part of these great kids and their highs and lows.
That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.