After two tightly-contested games during the West Central North season, many around the Sherrard and Orion girls' basketball programs are anticipating a potential third showdown to cap this week's Class 2A Rockridge Regional.|
However, the Tiger and Charger players and coaches are not among those -- or if they are, they're keeping that anticipation to a minimum as each squad has its collective attention fixed on tonight's semifinal games in Edgington.
"You've got to play every game like it's your last, and leave it on the floor every night,'' said Sherrard coach Doug Swanson, whose 24-3, top-seededteam used last week's 48-39 win at Orion to wrap up a second straight outright WCC North Division championship after sharing the 2011 league title with Illini West. "Once it comes regional time, records go out the window. You've got to step up, or you're going to be done.''
After last year's one-point loss to Eureka in the 2A sectional finals at Knoxville, the Tigers are anxious to take that next step. A balanced attack led by Carly Adams' 13 points per game and senior point guard Erin Barton's 8.5 points and 3.5 assists will be instrumental in how far Sherrard does go.
"Hopefully what we've been doing will continue in the postseason,'' said Swanson. "We want to get to the next step, and I think we're able to get it done.''
Meantime, second-seeded Orion (18-9) looks to regain the momentum it built when it reeled off an eight-game winning streak after slipping to 10-7 with a loss to North Scott at the Dearrel Bates Mississippi River Shootout. The Chargers ended the regular season with consecutive league losses to Illini West and Sherrard.
"We went on a nice little run with those eight wins in a row until we hit a bump in the road at Illini West, which is always a tough place to go and play,'' said Orion coach John McBride. "The key for us is to take care of the basketball. The games we play well are the games where we don't turn the ball over much; we like to stay under 15 turnovers a game. When we do that, we win.''
Orion also enjoys a distinct advantage in the paint with 6-foot-1 senior center Cassidy Clark, one of the area's top post players with her 20 points, 9.5 rebounds and five blocked shots per game. Classmate and 6-foot forward Katie Garrity (7.5 points, seven rebounds per game) gives Clark some needed protection in the paint.
McBride feels that his team will need all the firepower it can get as the Chargers are respecting the entire Rockridge field equally instead of zeroing in on a third matchup with its closest league rival.
"Shawn (Rockridge coach Shawn Strachan) said it best at our seeding meeting when he said this is a regional where any team could beat any other team,'' he said. "Anyone is capable of winning this one.''
So, hold off on that prospective Thursday night title game rematch until it actually happens.
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