PALOS HEIGHTS – Timothy Christian guard Heidi Westra didn’t do a lot of scoring Monday night.
She didn’t need to.
The 6-foot-2 junior was masterful inside and outside, pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds to go with six assists to help the Trojans knock off Carver 56-36 in a Class 2A Chicago Christian Sectional semifinal.
Forward Olivia Schuringa led all players with 21 points, one shy of her career high, and center Emily DeBoer added 16 points for Timothy Christian (20-9), which will attempt to win its first sectional championship since 2003 on Thursday against Harlan.
“It feels really cool and this is such a great team to be able to do it with,” Westra said. “I’m really excited and I hope we can keep the momentum going Thursday.”
The Trojans, who reached the 20-win plateau for the first time in coach Michele Strube’s five-year tenure, took a while to gain momentum against Carver. But once they did, the game was over in a hurry.
Timothy led by 13 late in the first half, only to see the Challengers (14-6) go on an 11-1 run to pull within 33-30 on a drive by Arian Kincaid with 5:18 left in the third quarter. Strube called timeout and stressed patience.
“We made some silly turnovers so we had to settle down and have patience on offense,” Strube said. “We don’t need to rush. You see how it works when we kind of take our time.”
Westra, who finished with two points, did just that when she had the ball on the perimeter. She consistently found Schuringa or DeBoer on lobs into the post.
“My first reaction on the wing is always to look at the post,” Westra said. “Today I knew we would have a lot of height on them and Olivia and Emily were both finishing really well.”
Indeed, Schuringa went 7-for-10 from the floor, sinking her first five shots and scoring 16 points in the first half. DeBoer made four straight baskets in the second half.
“Our guards were great,” Schuringa said. “The ballhandling and calming it down was a big part in this game because we knew their defense was a little weaker on seeing where we were on the court.
“So we just swung the ball around enough times that we hit the open girls.”
Following the timeout, the Trojans embarked on a 17-0 run, holding Carver scoreless almost nine minutes. Westra set up Schuringa and DeBoer for the first two baskets and then Schuringa assisted on layups by DeBoer and Lauren Gehrke, who chipped in three assists.
“I think when they came within three we were like, ‘OK, now we’ve got to go,’ and then wen went on a 17-0 run,” Schuringa said. “That one girl was just sitting at the end of the court. We were like, ‘now we can get in their head.’”
The Trojans certainly got in the head of Kincaid and fellow guard Ania Stewart, who combined to score all but four of the Challengers’ points.
Kincaid tallied 20 points but took only four shots in the final 13 minutes. Stewart had 10 of her 12 points in the first half but missed 14 of her last 15 attempts.
“Abby Carstensen and I did a sort of a box-and-one on [Kincaid] and I think that really helped,” Westra said. “You obviously can’t stop her, but you can contain her and I think that’s what we did. The posts also helped us out (stopping) her drives.”
DeBoer grabbed 11 rebounds and Schuringa had 10 for the Trojans, who outrebounded Carver 45-18, including 21-7 on the offensive end. DeBoer and Schuringa each had six offensive boards
“Heidi may not score a lot but she just knows her role,” said Strube, whose daughter Jordyn scored 11 points. “She’s so key for that defense.”