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St. Viator’s defense sinks Cary-Grove in Class 3A sectional semifinal – Shaw Local

ANTIOCH – St. Viator certainly didn’t play like a No. 10 seed during its Class 3A Antioch Sectional semifinal against No. 2 seed Cary-Grove on Tuesday evening.

The Lions (10-24) put on a tremendous defensive display, holding C-G (20-12) to 24.5% shooting from the field en route to a 51-39 victory.

Even more eye-opening was the fact the Lions held the Trojans to 1-for-22 shooting from 3-point range.

C-G missed its first 13 3s before finally sinking one with 6:45 left in the fourth quarter.

But by then, the damage had been done.

There were seven ties or lead changes during the first three quarters, as the Trojans somehow managed to keep things close with a relentless defensive effort of their own, forcing 20 turnovers.

But in the end, the red-hot hand of Lions senior Mia Bergstrom – a Division I St. Louis University commit – was too much for C-G to overcome.

Bergstrom had a game-high 28 points and shot 6 for 10 from the field with five 3s, propelling the Lions into Thursday’s 7 p.m. sectional title game against No. 1 seed Grayslake Central.

She also sank 11 of her 12 free throws, with 14 of her points coming in the fourth, when the pressure was at its greatest.

“I tell the girls all the time, this is why we play such a ridiculously tough schedule,” Lions coach Kyle Braheny said. “To prepare for games like these.

“We aren’t your typical No. 10 seed. Playing in the East Suburban Catholic Conference is no joke. Hats off to Cary, they had us really frustrated with their defensive intensity, but we found a way somehow.”

Tuesday’s loss marked the end of four C-G seniors’ high school hoops careers: Katelyn Gitzke, Morgan Haslow, Kayli McMorris and Emily Larry.

During postgame, emotions understandably ran high for the Trojans.

“It meant so much to me to be a part of this team,” Larry said. “We never gave up. We won 20 games and a regional. We upset Huntley. No one can ever take any of those things from us as a group.”

C-G coach Tony Moretti addressed his team in the locker room and thanked them.

“I told them I was proud of them,” Moretti said. “They worked this offseason to turn this program around from last season.

“There’s not much else to say. Credit to St. Viator. They played well tonight and knocked down big shots when they needed to.”

Cary-Grove's Kennedy Manning pushes the ball up the court against St. Viator's Maggie Ratzki during an IHSA Class 3A Antioch Sectional semifinal girls basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Antioch High School.

Though it didn’t yield the results she’d hoped, C-G sophomore Kennedy Manning sank plenty of shots of her own, offering a glimpse of the Trojans’ future.

Her 16-point effort was a team-best, but her five steals, eight rebounds and four assists as a point guard exemplified what type of scrappy player she is.

“And she’s still just a pup,” Moretti said. “I think we’re going to see great things from her in the future.”

Also great, from St. Viator’s perspective, is having the school’s single season scoring record holder in Bergstrom on its roster, as they prepare for Grayslake Central.

“She had over 650 points this season, prior to tonight,” Braheny said. “Having said that, we’re going to need all hands on deck Thursday. Because Grayslake handed it to us earlier in the year. But we’re a much different team now.”

That game, a 53-21 romp by Grayslake Central on Dec. 27, has the Rams feeling very confident headed into the rematch, with a sectional crown at stake.

The Rams beat Resurrection in the evening’s other semifinal 62-51.

Madison Hoffman led the winning effort with a 24-point, 11-rebound double-double. Annie Wolff (12 points, seven rebounds) and Peyton Hoffmann (11 points, nine rebounds, five assists) contributed as well.

“We don’t have any seniors on our roster,” Rams coach Steve Ikenn said. “We’re juniors, freshmen and sophomores. So this is going to be new territory for our girls on a huge stage.

“Our main goal is to take care of the basketball. If we can limit our turnovers and take care of the basketball, we will have the chance to do something potentially really special Thursday night.”

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