By THE HERALD-WHIG
MACOMB, Ill. -- The Illini West girls basketball team simply never let up.
The second-seeded Chargers upended top-seeded Havana 33-27 Thursday in the Class 2A Macomb Regional championship by stagnating the Ducks' offense and using strong shooting from the perimeter to win their third consecutive regional title.
"We were able to pressure them in the full-court to start," Illini West coach Grant Surprenant said. "We were getting out and keeping our opponents in front of us by playing the passing lanes. We were getting a lot of steals and holding the other team to one shot."
Josie Finch, who finished with a game-high 12 points, buried two 3-pointers early that helped Illini West (20-10) take a 9-3 lead after the first quarter. The Chargers pushed the lead to 18-7 at halftime.
Efficient ball movement was key for Illini West. Having already played the Ducks -- Havana beat Illini 40-39 at Beardstown Lady Tiger Classic -- benefitted the Chargers.
"We knew their personnel and knew they were going to throw some new defense at us," Surprenant said. "They started in a 2-3 (zone) and we were able to work the ball around it. We were also able to rebound out of their zone. We got a lot of offensive rebounds and were focused from the start tonight."
In the third quarter, it was Graci Bastert burned Havana from the perimeter. Bastert, who finished with 11 points, made two 3-pointers, including one at the third-quarter buzzer to put Illini West ahead 25-19. Havana never got closer than four points for the rest of the game.
Finch sealed the game by making a 3-pointer with two minutes left and went 3 of 4 from the free-throw line to seal the win.
"You could tell the girls were happy. They were all smiling," Surprenant said. "Starting out 0-5 and being 20-10 now, we've come a long way. It shows hard work pays off, and it was great to see the girls rewarded with a regional title."