BUFFALO GROVE – With her Palatine girls basketball team holding an 11-point lead at intermission, Frankie Henderson made sure that cushion didn’t disappear in the second half.
The senior point guard scored 10 points in the third quarter and 13 of her game-high 15 in the second half to help the No. 9 seeded Pirates pull away to a 50-27 victory over No. 8 Hampshire (20-12) in a semifinal of the Class 4A Buffalo Grove regional on Monday night.
“Frankie played really well for us,” said Palatine coach Sarah Davis, who will take the Pirates to a regional final in her first season in charge at her alma mater. “She always does. She is someone we can rely on consistently. She didn’t want to lose.”
Top-seeded Fremd (25-6) posted a 71-28 win over host and No. 16 Buffalo Grove (4-23) in the first semifinal on Monday. The Mid-Suburban League champion Vikings will take on the Pirates (16-13) for the regional title at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Henderson’s big third quarter included two of her three 3-pointers and a pair of layups, one of which was a big drive to the basket which gave her team a 30-11 lead with 4:30 left.
“It was definitely my teammates who were getting me really good passes,” Henderson said. “I was pretty much wide open every single time and they were finding me.”
Also finding the basket with success for the Pirates were 6-foot-3 junior center Halle Onyekonwu (14 points), junior Molly Pieper (7) and freshman Grace Kline (7).
“Halle played very well for us inside,” Davis added. “Very proud of her play on both ends of the floor. It was a very good team win from start to finish. But credit to Hampshire. They’re a great team, very well coached and well disciplined as well.”
Palatine jumped ahead 6-0 behind three buckets from Onyekonwu, who hit a 15-footer from the free-throw line and two layups in the game’s first 1:41.
A nice fake and then driving layup by Pieper extended the lead to 8-1 before junior Jaslene Evans’ 3-pointer made it 11-1 with two minutes remaining in the quarter.
After missing its first 10 shots, Avery Carter (7 points) hit a 3-pointer for the Whip-Purs with 1:24 left and the senior guard added a 10-footer to get her team to within 11-6 after one period.
Kline’s driving layup and 2 free throws by Henderson following a steal by Kline made it 17-6 midway through the second quarter. A big move under the basket by Onyekonwu resulted in her bank shot to give the Pirates a 20-9 advantage at intermission.
The Pirates outscored Hampshire 17-5 in the third quarter, which began with a putback by Onyekonwu and back-to-back 3 -pointers from Henderson and Pieper. In all, Palatine had seven 3-pointers, including three in the final quarter from Kline, Henderson and junior Sam Salituro.
Senior Whitney Thompson also had seven points for the Whip-Purs, who probably had the worst shooting percentage in four years according to fifth-year coach Eric Samuelson.
“We had open shots and great shots, but just didn’t make them,” he said. “I thought holding them to 20 points in the first half was great. Once Sophie (Oleferchik) came in and kind of did a really good job on 11 (Onyekonwu), I didn’t think our defense was the problem in the first half. At the end of the day, I wasn’t disappointed with our defense overall.”
In addition to Wisconsin-Whitewater pledge Carter, Thompson and Oleferchik, Samuelson’s other seniors were Kate Pearsall, Belle Eckert, Katheryn Cardona, Ashley Herzing and Audree Khotisene.
“I just feel really bad for my girls,” Samuelson said. “We don’t shoot that poorly. We are a good shooting basketball team. I don’t know what our percentage was but it couldn’t have been over 15 percent. They picked a rough night to go cold from the floor.
“But I want to talk about all the positives. This senior group won two games as freshmen, 10 games as sophomores, 22 last year and another 20 this year. So we can talk about all the great growth and who they have become as young ladies and good teammates.”