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Aurora Christian's Natasha Brown looks to pass to a team mate while being shielded by three St. Bede Academy players at Somonauk High School in Somonauk during the class 2A Sectional game on Monday, February 11, 2013. | Erik Anderson~For Sun-Times Media
Aurora Christian’s girls basketball team had played girls with some size this season, but in the program’s first-ever sectional appearance Monday, the Eagles encountered a player the likes of which they had not seen before.
Peru St. Bede senior Morgan Dean, at 6-foot-3 with tremendous strength, proved to be too much for the Eagles to handle in the Class 2A Somonauk Sectional semifinal. Aurora Christian’s record-setting season came to an end with a 47-41 loss. Dean scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for St. Bede.
“That girl was a load,” Aurora Christian coach Jerry Tokars said. “That’s the best I’ve seen her play, and I’ve watched three or four games on film. She didn’t play like that on film, so I give her a lot of credit. She’s a senior and she came to play tonight.”
Dean only had eight points at the half as St. Bede (18-15) took a 28-19 lead at the half. But as has been the case all season, Aurora Christian (19-9) proved that they were a second-half team, crawling back into the game as has been its signature all year.
Christian outscored St. Bede 14-6 in the third quarter to tie the game at 33-33. The Eagles’ only senior, Alex Hultine, scored five points in the quarter. Dean scored all six of St. Bede’s points.
“We’ve been there a lot this season,” Hultine said. “We know when we tie it up; it’s like a whole new game, 0-0. We really come out with that much more energy because it really starts to destroy their confidence. It really helps boost us and get us going.”
Back-to-back three-pointers from freshman Kirsten Madsen and Hultine gave the Eagles a 40-39 lead with 4:26 left in the fourth quarter.
“I thought it was going to happen,” Tokars said.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they managed to score only one more point the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Dean continued her dominance. She scored the first 10 points of the quarter for the Bruins, giving them the lead for good and also adding a key rebound put-back in the final minute that sealed the deal.
“She’s a ton inside,” St. Bede coach Tom McGunnigal said. “She’s our heart and soul offensively. She’s a good centerpiece for our offense.”
Hultine led the Eagles with 12 points in her final game at Christian. Natasha Brown hauled down 13 rebounds battling with Dean all night down low.
The loss ends a historic season for Aurora Christian. The Eagles set a program record for wins, won a share of the Suburban Christian Gold and won their first-ever regional title.
“All season, I said from the beginning that we were really going to make history this year, and we did,” Hultine said. “We set a lot of records. It was really enjoyable for me and I felt that I left the girls with a really good run to continue.”