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Andrew senior Tiana Karopulos was not a happy girl when she came out of the halftime locker room for the second half of Tuesday’s Class 4A Andrew Regional semifinal against Stagg.
Her right hand was heavily taped and she was wincing as she touched it. She took one shot during warmups and made it - with her left hand.
She sure didn’t play hurt in the second half, though.
In fact, Karopulos was a force for the Thunderbolts in their 43-32 victory, scoring 13 of her game-high 18 points over the final eight minutes.
Molly Franson added eight points and 17 rebounds and Nicole Dominguez seven points as Andrew (21-5) advanced to Thursday’s regional title showdown against Marian Catholic.
Revi McMahon totaled 11 points, Alexa Janus nine points and Ali Conrad seven rebounds for Stagg (20-6).
“I’m not really sure what happened,” Karopulos said of the issue with her right hand. “I got bounced off of a couple of screens in the second quarter. I just got up and tried to play.”
Karopulos did some dribbling with her left hand, and converted five field goals and three free throws using either-or.
“It was kid of kind of tender going right [on the dribble],” Karopulos said with a smile. “It’ll be fine. You’ve just got to go out there hard.”
Andrew prevailed on a night when neither team shot particularly well. It was just 18-12 Thunderbolts at the half, before Dominguez opened the third period with a drive through the lane and Karopulos followed with another. Karopulos moments later hit a running bank-in while being fouled, and completed the three-point play to make it 25-13.
On most nights, that wouldn’t be a problem for Stagg’s outside sharpshooters to overcome, but on this night they were anything but sharp. The Chargers as a team shot 9-of-57 from the field against Andrew’s tough man-to-man defense, and until a 6-of-6 finish were 5-of-14 from the free throw line.
“I didn’t think we would have as poor a shooting night as we did,” Stagg coach Bill Turner said. “When I went in the locker room at halftime and we were 5-of-26, I told them that there was no way we were going to shoot like that in the second half. And we didn’t. We shot worse.
“We got a lot of good looks, we just didn’t knock them down. And we missed some free throws early that would have kept us in the game. Defensively, it was a good effort. Offensively, we couldn’t find the bottom of the basket.”