HOFFMAN ESTATES – Batavia guard Jenna Laughlin hadn't taken a shot all game long.
Amid a performance with turnovers and some struggles, she found herself in position to redeem herself with her team needing two free throws while nursing a one-point lead against Bartlett on Tuesday during a Class 4A Schaumburg Regional semifinal.
Calm, collected and ready for the moment, she sank both to stave off an upstart Bartlett squad 65-62 to ensure a third matchup against Geneva in the regional final on Thursday.
"I knew these were the free throws to ice the game," Laughlin said. "I knew if I didn't make them, they would possibly have another opportunity...even though I did not shoot or drive, I knew this was a final moment to redeem myself and finally put something on the board."
The possession prior, Bartlett guard Savannah Standefer stole a pass and converted a layup on the other end to inch the Hawks within 63-62.
Laughlin's critical conversions ensured Bartlett would need an unlikely three-pointer or layup, plus the foul, to perhaps force overtime.
"That was huge," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said of Laughlin's two free throws at the end. "We don't do anything but shoot two free throws at a time [during practice]. We never sit around and shoot 10 in a row, 100 in a row...just shoot two. It's a lot of pressure when you have to just make two. That was big for her."
Ava Sergio, despite a few jammed fingers on her right hand stemming from the second quarter, scored a career-high 25 points to lead all scorers. Erin Golden had 15 points and four rebounds, while junior Hailey Orman followed with 12 points.
"I definitely had a height advantage," Sergio said of her career night. "My teammates kept giving me the ball, so I kept going straight up and they were falling."
Bartlett senior Kayla Hare had 20 points to lead the Hawks, while senior forward Danielle Kleeman followed with 16 points and six rebounds, Freshman guard Alexis Sinclair impressed with 15 points on the evening.
Bartlett (19-11) wrapped up an undefeated Upstate Eight Valley title with a win over West Aurora on Feb. 10 and came in on a four-game win streak, but Batavia (18-11) would not be denied with Golden, Sergio and Orman all providing lifts at different stages throughout the night.
Batavia took a 36-27 lead into the locker room at the half, but Bartlett kept it close all game, coming within two or three points three times in the fourth quarter. Batavia exhibited composure, even with four turnovers in the final quarter, to keep its season alive and ensure a third crack at Geneva.
Batavia is 0-2 against the Vikings this season.
"We have to come out very confident with a ton of energy. We just have to play hard the whole game. We can't let up at all," Sergio said.