Girls basketball: Hinsdale South falls short in Class 3A semifinal, savors first state appearance since 1977

Glenwood rides a collective scoring approach and tallied 16 steals to post a 46-33 victory

Hinsdale South Head Coach Scott Tanaka talks to Amelia Lavorato during their game against Glenwood Friday, March 1, 2024, in the IHSA Class 3A state semifinal at the CEFCU Arena at Illinois State University in Normal.

NORMAL – Hinsdale South senior forward Amerie Flowers had one of the best seats in the house for the majority of the first half on Friday morning.

Planted in the third seat on the bench, closest to the main scoring table at CEFCU Arena, the 6-foot Flowers wasn’t too happy with her vantage point.

Picking up her second foul with 1:27 left in the first quarter, Flowers watched the rest of the half of Hinsdale South’s first Class 3A state semifinal appearance from the bench.

Wearing black tights on her right leg only, along with bright yellow high-tops, Flowers stood out on the bench.

She would’ve preferred a standout performance on the court, though.

“Everybody wants to get on that (state) court,” Flowers said. “I knew what my team could do. We’re a family. I truly believed in my team.”

Glenwood rode a collective scoring approach and tallied 16 steals to post a 46-33 victory over Hinsdale South in the state semifinal.

In their first trip to the state tournament, the Titans (28-7) showed little fear or nervousness to advance to Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. championship game against Lincoln, who beat Montini in the second semifinal.

The Hornets (26-11) end their historic season by playing Montini in Friday night’s third-place game at 6:30 p.m. Hinsdale South, which reached the quarterfinals in their first and only other state appearance in 1977, were never able to get a flow on offense, partly because of the Titans’ pressure defense.

Hinsdale South's Amerie Flowers is consoled after her teams loss to Glenwood during their game Friday, March 1, 2024, in the IHSA Class 3A state semifinal at the CEFCU Arena at Illinois State University in Normal.

Hinsdale South sophomore guard/forward Maeve Savage had a big game with 11 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Flowers had six points, 10 rebounds and two steals in 21 minutes. Sophomore Hailey Goins netted six points and freshman point guard Brynn Diedrich finished with four points, five assists and two steals.

The Hornets rode Flowers and senior guard Amelia Lavorato, both four-year staters who won just two games in their freshman season, to the state tournament, Hinsdale South coach Scott Tanaka said.

“I’m just so proud of my entire team,” Tanaka said. “From where we started with my two seniors and they won two games on the varsity team, to be here (at state), you can’t get better than that. That’s the one thing these girls have to remember…They played their hearts out and are going to be remembered forever at Hinsdale South history.”

Rowann Law led Glenwood with 10 points, Makenna Yeager chipped in nine points and three steals and Alexis Neumann added seven points and 10 boards.

Glenwood first-year coach Alyssa Riley said the complexion of the game was altered after Flowers was hampered by foul trouble.

”I think it made a difference for us,” Riley said. “We said from the beginning to take it to her. She’s one of the best post players I’ve probably seen on the high school level.”

Lavorato, the daughter of former Maine South girls coach Tony Lavorato, credited the Titans’ defense for slowing down the efficiency of Hinsdale South’s offense.

“Their pressure was good, but nothing we couldn’t handle,” Lavorato said. “They played good defense and we got rushed. They played our type of defense, like our coach said, we haven’t seen our type of defense against us. To match up against it and feel that pressure, it was tough because they played really hard defense.”

Trailing 28-19, after the Titans opened the third quarter by hitting two of their first four shots, the Hornets were dealt another blow when Flowers picked up her third foul with 3:52 left in the third quarter. Flowers, a Benedictine recruit, entered the semifinal averaging 15.3 points and 12.4 rebounds per game.

Hinsdale South's Maeve Savage has the ball knocked away as she goes to the basket by Glenwood's Makenna Yeager during their game Friday, March 1, 2024, in the IHSA Class 3A state semifinal at the CEFCU Arena at Illinois State University in Normal.

Tanaka chose to leave his inside presence in the game, as Flowers immediately snared three rebounds in the next minute to help slow down the Titans’ second-half surge. Glenwood freshman reserve guard Kate Gilmore put a big dent in the Hornets’ plan to reach the title game late in the quarter, ripping a steal and racing in for a driving lay-up. Twenty-three seconds later, the 5-9 Gilmore canned a top-of-the-key 3-pointer to pad the lead to 36-21 with 32 seconds remaining in the third. Gilmore was a two-way menace, tallying two steals and scoring five points in the final minute.

The Hornets made a strong push in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter thanks to two strong drives by Goins and a lay-in by Flowers to slice the deficit to 38-27 with 6:12 left. Glenwood built a 42-29 lead following a layup by Yeager midway through the fourth.

Showing the emotions from a tough loss, Flowers said she was grateful to be a part of Hinsdale South history, especially with Lavorato.

“We didn’t get the win, but I wouldn’t trade this team for anything,” Flowers said. “We fought hard. We got this far. We were the underdogs. Nobody expected us as far as we did. That fueled our fire. I’m extremely grateful for this team. This made my senior year the best…To get to the final four, you can’t ask for anything better than that.”

Also shedding tears in the postgame, Lavorato said the team helped her realize a family dream that dates back several decades.

“This moment is incredible for my family included,” she said. “My grandfather was a basketball coach at Hinsdale South. My dad was a basketball coach at Maine South. It’s always been our dream to go downstate as a little kid. I wanted my dad to go downstate. He wanted his father to go downstate, so to be the first person in my family to go downstate, it’s incredible and being here with these girls in this moment is incredible. Nobody expected us to do it.”

Bob Narang

Bob Narang is a contributing sports reporter to Shaw Local News Network