STERLING – Carly Hartle didn't actually spend the entire second half of Monday's Class 3A Regional quarterfinal at the free-throw line. It just sort of felt that way.
So there's no wonder that the start of this game story should be with the 5 foot, 9 inch Dixon sophomore standing at the line with 2 minutes 57 seconds left with her team trailing by a point against Mendota.
Hartle made both shots, giving the Duchesses a lead they did not relinquish in a 51-45 upset win over the No. 4 seed Trojans.
Dixon will play No. 1 seed Rochelle today at 6 p.m. at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
"I was so nervous the whole time," Hartle said. "Free throws are something we practice a lot, and I wanted more than anything to make mine."
Hartle made six of eight attempts in the second half, including the two that gave Dixon (11-17) a 43-42 lead.
"You win games with layups and free throws," Dixon coach Luke Ravlin said. "We work on free throws all season and the girls hit most of them tonight.
"I am really proud of the way Carly Hartle played. She's grown so much as a player since she started playing and throughout this season. We knew she had this in her."
Hartle was left as the Duchesses' lone post presence after fellow forward Darianne Edwards picked up two quick fouls in the second quarter that ran her total to four for the game.
That didn't stop Hartle or Dixon from battling with the taller, more athletic team from Mendota (17-11).
Dixon started the game on fire, led by Brooke Bailey, who hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, which led to a 20-10 advantage.
"We missed some layups, and they came out playing very good on defense," Mendota coach Kevin Geldon said. "It allowed them to set the tone, and Brooke Bailey is such a phenomenal player."
As well as things went in the first quarter, they were equally bad in the second.
Dixon shot 0 for 8 from the field, scoring just three points as the Trojans wrestled away the lead. Mendota led 26-23 at the break.
Bailey put an end to an 11 minute, 7 second-field goal drought by Dixon with a 3-pointer with 5:27 left in the third quarter. That pulled Dixon within two points at 28-26.
The teams traded leads the rest of the way until Hartle made the free throws to give Dixon the lead for good.
Bailey and Brittani Sohn sealed the win at the line by combining to make 6 of 8 free throws down the stretch.
The Duchesses got to the line by beating the press defense of the Trojans.
"We've been practicing against the press," Bailey said. "We knew they were going to press us, and we had to be ready for it."
"We'd hoped to get more out the press," Gelden said. "I didn't think it was for a lack of trying."
Mendota's Amy Devitt had 17 points and seven rebounds. Ally Bromenschenkel added 13 points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
Bailey had 29 points, five 3-pointers and went 10 of 12 from from the line.
Hartle and Wolfe each added six points, while Hartle had 13 rebounds.
Star of the game: Brooke Bailey, Dixon, 29 points, 10 of 12 from free throw line, 5 rebounds
Key performers: Carly Hartle, Dixon, 6 points, 13 rebounds; Amy Devitt, Mendota, 17 points, 7 rebounds; Ally Bromenschenkel, Mendota, 13 points, 7 rebounds
Up next: Class 3A Sterling Regional semifinal – Dixon vs. Rochelle, 6 p.m. today