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Johnsburg-02/14/13, Fri./Johnsburg High School #11 Carolyn Leonard, of North Chicago tries to out a shot up with #52 Kayla Quinn, of Carmel with the block. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Folks in North Chicago may be talking about what happened in Johnsburg Friday night for a long time.
Moments after the 10th-seeded Warhawks stunned second-seeded Carmel, 64-60, to win the Class 3A Johnsburg Regional title, North Chicago freshman Tineesha Coleman — who was playing in just her third varsity game ever — stood there with the ceremonial net draped over her head and shoulders while fighting back tears.
All while sporting a glowing smile.
As if her 28-point, 17-rebound performance wasn’t spectacular enough, it was also the first regional crown for the school’s girls program 43 years. Their last one came in 1970.
“This feels great,” Coleman, who is the granddaughter of North Chicago boys coach Gerald Coleman, said. “Being a freshman, I’ve never been in a big gym playing, let alone played in a game this big.”
Coleman shot 11-for-15 from the field, and many of her baskets came on putbacks, thanks to the fact 10 of her boards came on the offensive glass. She repeatedly shredded Carmel’s usually stellar defense the entire evening — as did senior teammate Natajjae Franklin, who was 6-for-10 from the floor for 13 points.
“Not many people thought we could do this, but we believed,” Franklin said. “We didn’t take a day off of practice this entire week. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, up until today ... every day we practiced. Even when they fought back, we kept our heads up and came out with a win. We made history.”
With the victory, the Warhawks (13-14 overall) advance to play No. 3 seed Regina Dominican next Tuesday night, in a sectional semifinal at Vernon Hills.
Carmel coach Kelly Perz’s club, which finished 20-10 on the year, forced 34 North Chicago turnovers, yet remarkably, it still wasn’t enough.That’s because the Corsairs committed 30 turnovers of their own.
“We couldn’t keep her (Coleman) off the offensive glass,” Perz said. “And we couldn’t stop anyone’s right-handed layups for quite a while. North Chicago executed their game plan and just beat us. But we had a 20-win season. You have to hang your hat on that.”
The turning point may have been the third quarter, when Carmel allowed the Warhawks to build a 10-point lead, which was their biggest advantage of the night.
“That’s when I thought we let the game get away from us a little bit, in that quarter,” Perz said. “They had that run, and by the time we took the lead back briefly in the final few minutes it was too little, too late.”
Carmel junior forward Cassidy Kloss finished with a team-high 20 points for Carmel. But just two of those points came in the second half. Kathleen Felicelli, another junior, added 13 in the loss.
“Cassidy took over the game there for a while,” Perz said. “She couldn’t miss. But hopefully this motivates our girls to get in the gym in the offseason and work even harder to prepare for next year.”