SOMONAUK — Tom McGunnigal said he was happy to be in the Sweet 16 following his Lady Bruins’ 47-41 win over Aurora Christian at the Somonauk 2A sectional. Then, he thought for a second and said, “I want Mo, I want Mo.”
He got plenty of “Mo” Monday ... Mo Dean that is. The 6-3 senior center scored 10 straight points in the fourth quarter, finishing with 25 overall, to lift the Lady Bruins into the Sweet 16 against sixth-ranked Byron (30-2) in Thursday’s sectional finals at 7:30 p.m.
“You’ve got to go to your horse,” McGunnigal said. “She’s our heart and soul, offensively. We went at her. Missed a couple easy ones, but you know what, we’re going to take that. Doesn’t shoot 100 percent, but there’s no doubt about it, she’s a good centerpiece for our offense.”
The Lady Bruins needed everything they could get from their senior standout.
St. Bede (18-15) controlled the first half, taking a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and using an 8-0 run to go up 26-13 late in the second quarter.
AC would not go down quietly, however. The Eagles closed within 28-19 at halftime and used a 12-3 run to tie the game at 31 and took a 40-39 lead, its first of the game since 2-0, on a three-pointer by Alex Hultine with 4:35 remaining
The Lady Bruins went back to Dean, who scored inside on a dish from classmate Lydia Stariha to regain the lead, and added two free throws to make it 43-40 St. Bede with 3:13 remaining.
“I have confidence. I think the team has confidence in me to get the easy two points, but it’s not all me. It’s a lot of outside shots that come from my team,” said Dean, who shot 8 of 13 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free throw line. She said she was able to overcome a bad cold she has been battling, gaining inspiration from Michael Jordan’s famous “flu game” in the 1998 NBA finals.
Stariha added two free throws and Dean scored one final bucket on a putback to clinch the Lady Bruins berth into the Sweet 16.
“I thought it was going to happen,” AC coach Jerry Tokars said. “They believed in themselves. There was no doubt, they could do that.”
McGunnigal said the Eagles are known for being a strong second half team and showed why.
“We know they’re going to come out strong and no lead is safe, and the girls responded with that,” he said. “I thought we came out a little flat, a little tentative, waiting for them to run on us. When we got a little more aggressive it paid off for us.”
McGunnigal praised his bench players for picking up their game cheering their teammates after challenging them during a timeout.
Laura Sickley chipped in nine points and Lexie Miranda netted six points on two treys to go with six rebounds and thee assists.