NORMAL — With the game on the line, sophomores Nia Williams and Jaida McCloud tucked away their nerves and calmly sank four free throws in the closing minute to give Class 3A No. 1 state-ranked Peoria Richwoods High School a 38-34 win over Glenbard South in the state tournament semifinals on Friday at Redbird Arena.
"For two sophomores to step up and go 4-for-4 at the line when we needed it the most was huge," said Richwoods coach Todd Hursey, whose Knights will face No. 4 Nazareth Academy in Saturday's state title game at 12:45 p.m.
Richwoods' victory, the 1,000th in school history, spoiled a 24-point, 12-rebound performance by Glenbard South standout Maggie Bair. The Raiders will square off with Breese Central in Saturday's 11 a.m. third-place game.
With defense dominating and points at a premium, Richwoods (34-1) held a 12-10 first-quarter lead before being limited to five second-quarter points and falling behind 18-17 at halftime. It was only the second time this season that Richwoods had trailed at intermission.
The Knights, whose only loss came at the hands of Normal Community in the State Farm Classic on Dec. 29, clamped down on defense in the third quarter, holding Glenbard South to five points and taking a 27-23 lead heading into the final frame.
Richwoods enjoyed its largest lead at 29-23 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter before Glenbard South (29-4) rallied to a 34-34 tie with 1:01 remaining.
After Williams put Richwoods back on top with her two free throws, she swiped a Glenbard South pass to set up McCloud's game-clinching free throws with four seconds remaining.
Kourtney Crane led Richwoods with 11 points.
Nazareth Academy 58, Breese Central 25: The Roadrunners outscored Breese Central, 17-2, in the second quarter and coasted to a win in Friday's other semifinal. Guard Annie Stritzel was 3-of-4 from 3-point range and netted 29 points to lead Nazareth.
Lombard Montini 37, Edwardsville 30: No. 3 Montini held Edwardsville to 26.7 percent shooting from the field and handed the No. 1 state-ranked Tigers their first loss. Aaliyah Patty had a game-high 15 points for the Broncos (34-2), who also received 11 points and eight rebounds from Lindsey Jarosinski.
Montini advances to face reigning state champion Geneva in Saturday's Class 4A title game at 7:15 p.m. Edwardsville (30-1) will play Maine West in the 5:30 p.m. third-place game.
Geneva 58, Maine West 41: The No. 6 Vikings (30-3) received 23 points from Margaret Whitely in pursuit of their second straight 4A title. Brie Borkowicz was 13-of-14 at the free throw line and added 15 points.
Alisa Fallon had 14 points for No. 5 Maine West (31-2).