ELGIN – Dundee-Crown’s Anna Kieltyka prides herself on defense. In the first five minutes of the Chargers’ Class 4A South Elgin Regional semifinal against Larkin, the senior guard stole four passes, which led to easy transition baskets for her teammates and eight quick points.
The scoring spree didn’t end there.
The outburst ballooned to 23 straight points halfway through the second quarter, and D-C cruised to a 55-31 win Tuesday at South Elgin, setting up an all-Fox Valley Conference championship.
Third-seeded Cary-Grove handled No. 6 South Elgin, 69-37, in the second semifinal, and will face second-seeded Dundee-Crown at 7 p.m. Thursday. The teams split the regular-season series.
The Chargers have won three straight regional titles. Kieltyka has been a part of the past three.
“Our defense drives our offense is what we always say,” said Kieltyka, who tallied six points and six steals. “I’ve been [on varsity] since my freshman year, so to get that fourth regional would be the perfect piece of the puzzle to end everything. I think everyone is excited to make that history.”
Dundee-Crown led, 23-4, with less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter when the Royals (5-25) went on a run of their own, cutting the lead to 25-15 at the break. Just like they started, the Chargers tightened up defensively and held Larkin to single digits in the third and fourth quarters.
“For us, [the message] was ‘You’ve got to leave it on the floor,’ “ Kieltyka said. “Any game can be your last at this point. The more we play together, the more we play our game, and the better we are.”
Sophomore Katelyn Skibinski led the Chargers with 17 points on a 7-of-9 shooting. Freshman Gianine Boado had 14 points and two 3s, and freshman Alyssa Crenshaw scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
“We knew that we had to pull together, and we focused on transition,” Skibinski said of D-C’s strong start. “The whole team just looked up the floor and pushed it up at the right time.”
Chargers coach Sarah Miller also credited Skibinski, a 5-foot-7 guard, with a strong defensive effort.
“We talk a lot about defensive intensity carrying over to the offensive end, and I felt like she had both components working tonight,” Miller said. “She was aggressive to the rim. She was not shy to take it to the hoop.”
In the second semifinal, the Trojans jumped out to an 18-4 lead after the first quarter and led, 34-8, at halftime. Junior forward Maddie Jannusch had a game-high 18 points, senior Katie Sowa scored 15 points with three assists, and Elsa Larry and Abby Getka each tossed in nine points.
“I feel like that was one of our better games,” said Sowa, who is averaging 14.3 points a game. “It’s the last couple games of the season, and we just want to keep playing. We have Dundee-Crown Thursday, and we know quite a bit about them. I think we’re very even. It will be a good game.”
The 69 points were the Trojans’ highest scoring game of the season, with all nine players scoring in the win. C-G coach Rod Saffert said his team played its best first half of the season, but also pointed to the third quarter in which the Storm (13-14) had 20 points on the strength of three 3-pointers.
The Trojans responded in the fourth by holding South Elgin to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting.
“The first 16 minutes, that’s how you have to play right now,” Saffert said. “Overall, it was a great game for us. It’s just that it got out of hand there in that third quarter. We gave up a lot of 3s, and we didn’t defend them like we did in the first half.”
Dundee-Crown defeated C-G, 48-39, in November. More recently, the Trojans beat D-C, 41-38. Miller expects another competitive battle. Both D-C and C-G tied for second in the FVC at 11-5.
“Cary-Grove plays physical and we also play physical,” Miller said. “I think it’s going to be a fun, competitive challenge.”