FAIRBURY — One down, now two to go.
The La Salle-Peru girls basketball team took the first step in its postseason journey toward a regional title with a 55-25 victory Monday over Streator in opening round action of the Class 3A Prairie Central Regional.
With the victory, the fourth-seeded Lady Cavaliers (11-16) will face top-seeded Ottawa at 6 p.m. Wednesday in semifinal action.
“We can win this regional. We have to play a lot better than we did, the first half especially. But if we are focused, we have no reason not to believe that we can win the tournament. We’ve played very well down the stretch. We’ve had a lot of tight games — four of our last six have been decided by one or two points either way,” L-P coach Hollis Vickery said. “We’re learning how to win close games. If we can keep it close against Ottawa and whoever else, I think we have a great chance.”
After taking a 20-13 lead into the locker room at halftime, the Lady Cavs put things away in the third quarter led by an offensive outburst from sophomore Hannah Wolfe.
The Lady Cavs’ 5-foot-10 center rang up 10 of her game-high 17 points in the decisive third quarter as L-P outscored the Lady Bulldogs 22-3 to make things academic with a 42-16 lead heading into the fourth frame.
“She’s the most improved player on the team,” Vickery said of Wolfe. “She’s worked very hard at it. I don’t think anybody’s worked as hard as Hannah in the past year. She’s always outside in the summer shooting. She loves the game of basketball. She’s going to be a big contributor, hopefully, in this tournament and the two more years we’ve got her. We need everybody to improve like her. She’s done a tremendous job.”
L-P senior guard Britany Zawacki joined Wolfe in double-digit scoring with 12 points. Sophomore Quincy Weber added eight points and classmate Ellie Senica chipped in six, while senior Brianna Argubright grabbed a team-best six rebounds.
“The first half we were kind of sluggish. We weren’t strong with the ball at all. We had plenty of opportunities to stretch the lead in the first two quarters (but didn’t). Maybe it was the long trip. I don’t know what it was,” Vickery said. “At halftime, we didn’t talk about much, just executing on offense, taking care of the ball, getting out on the break and just scoring. … (Defensively,) I think when we went man-to-man it sped up the game a lot and we took care of it from there.”
Streator (2-25) was led by sophomore Shawna Meiners with nine points. Senior Hannah Cox led the Lady Bulldogs, who committed 29 turnovers, with a team-best six rebounds.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.