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The Rich South players celebrate their Regional Championship. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
In November, Rich South ended Hillcrest’s seven-year reign as Galaxy Tournament champions by beating the Hawks in the title game.
Thursday night the Stars brought to an end another Hillcrest streak, this time terminating the Hawks’ season.
Rich South’s 65-56 victory in the championship game of the Class 3A Hillcrest Regional ended the Hawks’ three-year run of advancing to state finals weekend.
“This means a lot to us,” Stars sophomore Tierney Lockett said. “Hillcrest has won everything. It’s a competition between us, a rivalry. I think we did good.”
Lockett was better than good when it counted the most, hitting back-to-back three-pointers midway through the fourth quarter to break what had been a 50-50 tie.
Lockett finished with 18 points, while Tierra Webb added 15 points and eight rebounds, CiErra Garrett 11 points, and Dasia Evans 10 points and 12 rebounds for Rich South (22-5).
Hillcrest (21-6) was paced by Tanzania Sherrill (14 points), Shayla Joyner (10 points) and Lorielle Little (8 points, 13 rebounds).
The Hawks played without senior guard Dana Gettis, who sat out for the second game in a row because of what Hillcrest principal Renee Simms said was a “school-related issue.”
Gettis ended the regular season with averages of 20.2 points, 5.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.1 steals.
Her absence didn’t seem to affect the Hawks for most of the game. They led at one point in the third quarter, 43-32, after hitting their first five shots.
Rich South, however, closed the period strong with a with a 7-0 run, and parlayed Lockett’s pair of threes into a series of successful trips to the free throw line.
It was there, without question, that the game was decided.
Rich South was 22-of-27 at the line, a sizzling 14-of-16 in the second half.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hillcrest was a meager 6-of-23 in charity tosses, just 2-of-15 in the second half.
“That hurt,” Hillcrest coach John Maniatis said. “We’ve been trying to battle through some of the adversity we had this week. We had a lead, and we weren’t able to capitalize on it when we had a chance to put them away.
“(Without Gettis) it obviously changed the complexion of how we’d run things. But you know something, the kids stepped up, the kids played hard. Give credit where credit is due. They hit some big threes.”
None bigger than those by Lockett in the fourth period.
“I just knew we needed the threes,” Lockett said. “I’ve been off lately. The three-point contest helped me get my shooting eye.”