PLANO – Lauren Cohen provided Glenbard South with the kind of lockdown defense it needed she's known for.
And she came through in the clutch.
The Raiders' sophomore delivered a pair of huge three-pointers to key a fourth quarter rally against Burlington Central. Glenbard South, which trailed by eight points midway through the third quarter, went on to a 36-27 win in Thursday's Class 3A Plano Regional final.
The Raiders advanced to face Sterling (24-4) in Monday’s Class 3A Rochelle sectional semifinal. The Golden Warriors have not lost since before Christmas.
“We knew this could be our last game so we were going to put all of our effort into it,” Cohen said. “We weren’t going to let it end here. We wanted to keep going.”
Undoubtedly, having players like Cohen who were a part of last year’s team that took third place in Class 3A played a factor in the team never losing faith despite amiserable start.
That included senior Maggie Bair, who had a monster of a game with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
“We went into the locker room at halftime and there were no down faces, nobody was quitting,” said Bair, a Drake recruit. “We were talking about how badly we played but how we still were down by only four. Our mentality was to just keep shooting and keep going after it and play hard defense no matter what.”
Burlington Central (22-8), which saw its seven-game winning streak and season come to a halt, took its biggest lead at 21-13 with five minutes left in the third quarter after Reili Gardner’s nifty left-handed shot.
The Rockets wouldn’t make another basket until the game was all but officially over when Elana Wells (11 points) drilled a three-pointer with 22 seconds remaining.
“That’s 99.9 percent Lauren Cohen’s defense and that’s something that’s been exactly the same all year,” Bair said. “She’s the hardest working kid I know and we always put her on the best player. Tonight she was on (Wells) and Lauren did an excellent job of stopping her. It’s all her defense and everyone else follows.”
Cohen’s long three-pointer with 6:20 left tied the game at 24-24.
“Once I hit that shot, I realized I still had it,” she said. “I wasn’t hitting it in the beginning so I was a little nervous to see if I could make it. That helped me believe in myself a lot.”
Glenbard South (20-7) took its first lead 30 seconds later on a pair of free throws from Bair.
Bair then followed with a putback before Cohen ran down a long offensive rebound and drained another three-pointer for a 31-24 lead with just 3:40 remaining.
“It was a last second thought,” said Cohen, who scored 11 points. “I made the last one so I figured, I got this, I can do it, but if there wasn’t anyone else down there to rebound, I probably wouldn’t have taken it.”
Despite how many shots the Rockets took, they just couldn’t get many to fall. Their previous season-low in points was 41, in December against Batavia.
“They really defended us well,” Rockets coach Mark Smith said. “We had tapes and we saw them live the other night and our offense couldn’t handle that defensively. Sometimes we have a tendency to take a quick shot and you see their style of play is to not take a quick shot and that hurt us a little bit too.”
The Rockets only had eight field goals overall and just two in the second half.
“I’m proud of our team,” Raiders coach Morgan Eufrasio said. “Burlington Central is a tough team and they have really good players that can shoot well, but we got in their face and hopefully threw them off enough.”
Junior Kat Schmidt had 11 points and 11 rebounds for a Burlington Central team that will return all of its starters next winter.