PERU – When the going got tough, Prophetstown got defensive.
The first half was back and forth, and the Prophets held a two-point edge over rival Riverdale at the break.
The second half was all Prophetstown, as the Prophets pulled away for a 43-23 win in the 2A St. Bede Regional championship Thursday night at St. Bede Academy.Prophetstown (27-2) held Riverdale (17-12) to 2-for-31 shooting with its suffocating man-to-man defense. That's 6 percent.
"That's our bread and butter," the Prophets' Heather Strike said of her team's man-to-man defense. "We came out slow, but once we started playing the game like we have all year, then it started to pick up, and we took off from there."
Strike also scored 11 points.
The Rams had one field goal in each of the first two quarters, and none the rest of the way.
"Our defense picked up big-time in the second half," said Prophetstown's Clare Kramer, who scored a game-high 12 points. "Once our defense picked up, our offense picked up. After that first half, we got a little fire in our belly."
Leading 19-17 at the half, the Prophets outscored Riverdale 24-6 in the second half. Prophetstown held the Rams scoreless from the 4:56 mark of the third quarter until the final minute of the game. It was a 12-minute, 9-second span.
Up 23-19, the Prophets scored the next 20 points.
"We were a little shook early that our shots weren't falling, and we got in some foul trouble," said Prophetstown coach Don Robinson, whose team won its seventh straight regional title and beat Riverdale for the third time this season.
Kassi Henrekin hit a free throw, then Kramer knocked down a shot. Strike scored off a feed from Kramer before Henrekin made a bucket.
Prophetstown made it 32-19 heading to the fourth quarter, when Karlie Stafford scored off an assist by Kaeli Kovarik. Stafford scored seven points.
The Prophets continued to pour it on, as Strike finished on a fast break. Shelby Adams hit two free throws, and Stafford another, before a rebound putback by Kramer.
Strike struck for another fast-break bucket before Calya Crane converted a field goal to make it 43-19 with 2:10 to play.
Prophetstown point guard Corrie Reiley added six points and played tenacious defense all night.
Sydney Mericle led Riverdale with eight points. Teammate Megan Groves had seven.
"We weren't as patient in the second half," Rams coach Mick Kopriva said. "We started throwing up some shots. I really didn't care how many points we scored, as long as we kept it close."
Star of the game: Clare Kramer, Prophetstown, 12 points
Key performers: Heather Strike, Prophetstown, 11 points; Sydney Mericle, Riverdale, 8 points
Up next: 2A Aurora Christian Sectional semifinal: Prophetstown vs. Oregon, 6 p.m. Tuesday