By THE HERALD-WHIG
BEARDSTOWN, Ill. -- Grant Surprenant felt good about Aubrie Carlisle's chances as she stepped to the free-throw line with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation of Wednesday's second-round game in the Beardstown Lady Tiger Classic. Still, he figured he'd offer a little advice to Carlisle, who needed to make both free throws to force overtime in the Illini West girls basketball team's game against Jacksonville Routt.
"I pulled her aside and told her, ‘Just relax, have some confidence and step up there like you do every time and knock it down,'" said Surprenant, Illini West's coach.
Carlisle did just that. She made both free throws to force overtime, and the Chargers went on to win 41-37, knocking off the fourth-seeded Rockets, who are ranked No. 7 in Class 1A. Just a couple hours earlier, 13th-seeded Illini West defeated No. 20 Brown County 46-39 in the preliminary round of the 24-team event.
Carlisle's free throws against Routt came after her second offensive rebound on the possession. Carlisle rebounded a missed shot from Elyce Trout, missed a putback attempt, rebounded her miss and was fouled.
"She is one of our better free-throw shooters," Surprenant said. "Being a sophomore, I thought she showed a lot of poise stepping up to the line and knocking down two big free throws."
The Chargers (6-8) showed poise after trailing Routt 15-11 at halftime and 24-22 entering the fourth quarter.
A midrange jumper from Graci Bastert early in the fourth quarter sparked the Chargers, and that was followed by a conventional three-point play from Holly McDowell. Illini West also got a key fourth-quarter putback basket from Shelbi White, who led Illini West with 12 points.
"She played really well for us down the stretch," Suprenant said of White.
Bastert and Carlisle added seven points each.
Illini West will play fifth-seeded Havana in a quarterfinal game at 2 p.m. Thursday.
The Chargers also needed to rally against Brown County after they trailed 18-11 at halftime. Illini West outscored the Lady Hornets 22-11 in the third quarter to take control. The Chargers were slowed in the first half by 3 of 14 free-throw shooting before making 10 of 14 attempts from the charity strip after halftime.
"We mixed up some defense in the second half," Surprenant said. "The girls did a good job adjusting. We went kind of full-court press and then that got some quick turnovers, and we were able to lead that into easy buckets."
Brown County's Vanessa Markert led all players with 26 points.
"She's a very good player. She's got good midrange game," Surprenant said.
Jenna Yingling added 10 points for Brown County, which will play North Fulton at 11 a.m. Thursday in the consolation bracket.
Bastert led Illini West against Brown County with 15 points. Michaela Gronewold added eight points.