ROMEOVILLE – Plainfield South girls basketball coach Leah Carter hoped that the third time would be the charm for her team against Southwest Prairie Conference foe Oswego.
After dropping a pair of nine-point decisions to the Panthers in league play, the Cougars wanted to turn the tables and continue their most-successful season yet.
But Oswego had other ideas and used two big early runs to take control as it went on to claim a 58-36 victory over South in Wednesday’s Class 4A Romeoville Regional semifinal.
Carter had told her players she would dye her hair blue if they reached their goal of 12 wins, which was five more than the program had won before – and she was true to her word.
However, some good early shooting by the Panthers (20-9) mixed with struggles from the floor by the Cougars (12-17) resulted in Oswego grabbing a 33-21 halftime lead.
The Panthers kept the pressure on during the third quarter and closed with one more flurry to build a 46-26 advantage heading into the final period.
“They had to come out and play hard against us,” Carter said. “If they would have given us a subpar game, I think that we would have beaten them. They played really hard to get the lead that they got, and they were able to sustain it. I don’t think that we gave up, and we played the hardest that we could play. If a couple of Jaianna’s [Brooks] shots fall here and there, it’s a different ball game.
“This is the best that we’ve ever done in school history. We had 12 wins and finished fifth in conference, so our program is growing. This is a big step, a big building block for us. I had Tyler [Everett] and Kaylin [Doran] stand up in front of everybody in the locker room. When they were freshman, there were 22, and they are the only two left as seniors. I told the girls who will back that they can’t put the basketball on the shelf and dust it off in October.”
Leading the way for South was senior Everett, who scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Brooks also reached double figures, finishing with 10 points.
The Cougars also received eight points and 11 rebounds from Antwanetta Boswell, while Alyssa Fink chipped in with five points and seven rebounds.
The score was tied at 9 in the first quarter when Oswego went on a 12-0 run, with Amri Wilder (23 points) collecting seven of the points. South got a layup from Everett to close the first quarter down, 21-11.
After Everett made an old-fashioned three-point play to start the next period, the Panthers rattled off the next 10 points to grab a 31-14 lead. But South narrowed the gap by scoring seven of the next nine points leading up to the break.
Oswego also got strong efforts from Erin Sinnott (11 points, 11 rebounds), Siarra O’Neill (nine points), Jordan Campbell (eight points) and Kia Dwight (seven points).