SOMONAUK – Aurora Central Catholic ended the Cinderella-story run of Sandwich in the Class 2A Somonauk Regional final Friday, winning 47-40.
In a physical game where the teams combined for 39 fouls, the Indians’ second half push challenged the Chargers late. The Chargers (18-14) survived behind 15 points from freshman guard Sofia Corral, 13 of which came in the second half.
“I knew this wasn’t going to happen unless everybody pitched in,” Corral said. “We’re a team and we work as one very well. As a point guard, it’s kind of up to you to lead your team and spark that offensive motion to get things going.”
Sandwich struggled offensively in the first half, trailing at the break 17-8 and putting several players in early foul trouble. The Indians rallied off 21 points in the third quarter with better composure, but they couldn’t manage a similar rally on defense.
“In the first half I probably should have called timeout early and got our girls composed,” Sandwich coach Randy Malloy said. “That would have given me a chance to compose myself and do what we needed to do. The halftime was much needed for us because we were able to compose ourselves.”
Junior forward Clarie Allen led Sandwich (11-23) with 14 points as the centerpiece of the Indians physical play. In the second quarter, an elbow by Allen left Chargers junior guard KK Nash with a bloody nose and ratcheted up the intensity of play.
“Allen was a handful inside,” Aurora Central Catholic coach LeVada Smith said. “I thought they tried to bully us around a little bit in the first half and the score was low as a result. I think what happened in the second half is our conditioning kicked in and that’s where we started scoring points and playing better defense.”
The rough and tumble nature of the game was evident in the first quarter as Sandwich finished the period with a 6-5 lead. The Indians managed only two points in the second quarter on a basket by senior forward Molly Roberts.
Nash tied the game with a free throw before having to leave the game to tend to her injuries from the Allen elbow. When she returned, she made two baskets to help the Chargers a take nine-point lead at halftime.
Roberts, Allen and junior forward Alyssa Broce all made threes 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, leading to the Chargers extending the lead by the final of 47-40.
The Chargers play Winnebago at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Class 2A Johnsburg Sectional semifinal.
The loss for Sandwich marks the end of an underdog story in the Somonauk regional. After winning their regional quarterfinal, the Indians knocked off the regional two-seed St. Edward 43-36 on Tuesday in the semifinal round.
Despite the final record, Malloy said the team’s change of attitude after Christmas helped prepare them to reach the regional finals.
“At Christmas, I basically told the girls ‘Let’s treat this as a new year,’” Malloy said. “We needed to refocus ourselves, so we all refocused for regionals. Since Christmas, they’ve had a new mentality and it was so great to see them come to practice smiling, laughing, having a great time and working really hard.”