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Girls basketball: Hinckley-Big Rock bows out in sectional final

Updated: February 14, 2013 11:15PM

Coming into the season, Hinckley-Big Rock girls basketball coach Greg Burks didn’t quite know how to project how his young team would fare this year.

Standing at 11-12 after a loss to Indian Creek in the third-place game of the Little Ten Tournament, the future still appeared cloudy.

But the Royals put on a heck of a late-season kick — winning seven straight games, including a regional championship — to advance to Thursday’s Class 1A Illinois Valley Community College Sectional final against state power Annawan.

The run came to an end for Hinckley, however. The Royals cut the lead to nine early in the fourth quarter, but a 14-2 run by the Bravettes put the game away. Annawan advanced to Monday’s supersectional at Illinois Wesleyan with a 64-44 win.

“We wanted to stay in the game as long as we could,” Burks said. “We tried to battle them for four quarters. They’re a highly-touted team, obviously. It seemed like when they pulled away a few times, we resisted and battled back. I don’t think the 20-point final is really indicative of what kind of game it was. We battled. You hope to catch them on an off night and maybe you have a chance, but unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be.”

Annawan (28-2) pulled ahead by 20 (49-29) with 3:10 left in the third quarter. But the Royals (18-13) had one last run left in them, led by sophomore Jacqueline Madden. H-BR went on an 11-0 spurt, with seven points coming from Madden, to slice the lead to 49-40 with 7:25 left in the game.

“We wanted to come back and give them a run for their money,” Madden said. “We wanted to fight to the end, and we did that.”

Annawan had another run left in the tank as well, however, finishing the game on a 15-4 run to win going away.

Annawan opened the game up 13-4 behind junior Celina VanHyfte. The six-foot center scored seven of the opening 13 points for the Bravettes. In the second, the Royals cut into the lead twice only to see VanHyfte score two straight buckets each time to push the lead back out. Overall, she wound up with 21 points, 15 rebounds, four steals and four blocks in the win.

“She’s a good player,” Madden said. “We talked about weak side help and we tried to front her. We did all we could.”

Megan Foes scored 13 for Annawan, with Maddie Jackson adding 11. Madden led the way with 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field for the Royals. As a team, the Royals shot a solid 18 of 37 from the floor, but they were doomed by 40 turnovers.

“We had to handle their pressure,” Burks said. “I thought when we did that, we got some good looks. Unfortunately, some turnovers went along with that.”

But Burks was happy with what the group accomplished over the last month, pushing the Royals to their sixth sectional championship game in seven years.

“Over the last four years of graduating 13 players, four managers and three assistant coaches moving on to take different jobs, these kids at the end of the season proved that what we do at Hinckley-Big Rock stands the test of time,” Burks said. “I’m really indebted to them for elevating their game and showing that what we do as a collective group is the right way to play basketball.”

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