'Two more, baby:' On to state for Winnebago girls after dominant supersectional win
ELGIN — "Two more, baby," Winnebago's star guard Miyah Brown said just seconds after she helped her team secure a trip to the state finals with a 66-47 win over Chicago DePaul Prep.
After another dominant performance on Monday night, the No. 1-ranked Winnebago girls are just two wins away from the program's first state title.
It was back-and-forth with Chicago DePaul Prep in the Class 2A Elgin Supersectional early on, but then Winnebago (34-2) took control with a 10-0 run to start the second half — and then they were gone.
"We all just recollected and re-grouped in there at halftime, and we told each other 'Now's our time,'" said Brown, the senior returning all-stater who scored 12 points and added four rebounds and four assists and three blocks. "We didn't do anything different, we just played the same way we've played all year. We played together, and we played tough."
DePaul (18-10) went toe-to-toe with Winnebago in the first half, leading most of the first quarter and trading blows in the second. But center Sarah Seger (12 points and eight rebounds) put in a hook shot right out of the gates in the third quarter, and Brown's back-to-back driving buckets gave Winnebago serious momentum.
"We wanted this, and that second half we just went out and took it," said Campbell Schrank, who had seven points and six rebounds to go along with four steals. Her bucket midway through the third gave Winnebago its first double-digit lead. "We're so close now, we can feel it."
Winnebago was led by senior Renee Rittmeyer who had 22 points and six rebounds, with nine of those points coming in the fourth quarter. Ella Provi also had seven of her 10 points in the final stanza.
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Now it's on to the 2A state semifinal in Normal, where Winnebago will take on Minonk Fieldcrest, a 43-40 winner over Chicago Noble/Butler, at 4:15 p.m. Thursday. It is the fourth bid to the state tournament for the Winnebago girls, who have never finished higher than their third place from 1992.
A win on Thursday would boost Winnebago into the 2A state championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday. A loss would set up the third-place game later on at 8:45 p.m. Thursday.
But it's all right there for the taking.
"This is definitely an emotional moment for me," Brown said as tears streamed down her cheek. "This is a moment you can't put words on."
Winnebago has won 13 straight since suffering its only two losses of the season in a five-day stretch from Jan. 15 (57-45 to Peoria Notre Dame) to Jan. 20 (65-51 to to Arlington Heights St. Viator). And now, Brown and her final Winnebago team is on the doorstep of a state title.
"For four years, this has been our goal, this right here," Brown said. "We wanted to get there; we knew we could get there. And now it's about finishing it all off.
"All it takes is two more wins."