EDGINGTON — Ultimate satisfaction for the Sherrard girls' basketball team came from knowing they did everything well.|
Name an aspect of the game and the Tigers were nothing short of flawless on Thursday night. Even those on the court in top-seeded Sherrard's 63-28 victory over second-seeded Orion in the Class 2A Rockridge Regional championship game could not find any holes in a true title-worthy performance.
"We did everything perfect," Sherrard senior guard Erin Barton said. "We couldn't have done anything else differently."
The reward is a school-record third consecutive regional title and a berth in Tuesday's Orion Sectional semifinals against Knoxville, a 44-32 upset winner over top-seeded Peoria Christian in the Kewanee Regional final.
Sherrard (26-3) also tied its program record for single-season victories.
"Hopefully we can take the next step," said Sherrard coach Doug Swanson, who has yet to lose a regional game in his tenure. "There might be a little bit more — there are some things to clean up. We can get there. Hopefully, that will take us another couple weeks."
For one night at least, the Tigers looked like they could beat anyone. Swanson first praised a defensive performance that limited Orion (19-10) to single-digit scoring in each quarter. The Chargers committed 25 turnovers and shot 30 percent (12-of-40) from the field.
Other than a four-possession stretch in the third and fourth quarters, Orion never scored on consecutive offensive trips.
"We just couldn't get anything going," said Orion coach John McBride, who received eight points from Cassidy Clark and six from Katie Garrity. "We had a couple games like that this year. It was just a bad time to have one."
On the other end, Sherrard felt it was at its best in the biggest game of the year.
"It comes down to the type of girls we have and the type of competitors they are," Swanson said.
All that created balanced, selfless play. Sherrard rarely forced any shot, using an extra pass to find an opening in the Orion defense. Carly Adams was the perfect example, hitting seven of her 11 shot attempts for a game-high 19 points with six steals and four assists.
Barton added 16 points, Shelby Calderone contributed 10, and Riley Strandgard added eight. The Tigers made 24 of their 50 field-goal attempts.
"That's as good as I've seen them play," McBride said. "There's no doubt about it."
Now the focus turns to continuing perfection as Sherrard moves toward its first sectional title since 1990. In their previous three sectional trips, the Tigers lost in the championship game.
"These girls have a lot of experience and have been in this situation before," Swanson said. "We've been so close the last couple years. We haven't been able to get over that hump before.
"Hopefully, these girls will be hungry to get there."