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Hillcrest's Nadika Jackson forces her way around Wheaton North's Emmy Gyrna. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media
Hillcrest coach John Maniatis isn’t a fan of roller coasters. At all.
Well, that rather intense dislike was tested Saturday, his Hawks playing Wheaton North at the McDonald’s Shootout at Willowbrook.
Hillcrest fell behind 7-0 in just 38 seconds, then went up 16-9 in the first quarter, looked to have the game locked up with 52 seconds to go, gave away the lead, fell behind by five in overtime…and still won.
Nonstop motion on the sidelines, even Maniatis had to chuckle at Hillcrest’s 99-92 win over Wheaton North.
“The emotions starting off so low, coming back up, down and up again, I don’t like roller coasters,” Maniatis said with a laugh. “For us to battle back the way we did today, it showed tremendous perseverance. What a phenomenal effort. The girls gave us everything.”
Tanzania Sherrill and Shayla Joyner (15 rebounds) scored 26 points apiece to power the up-and-down win for Hillcrest (14-4), with Aliah Acker (16 points), Tierra Sanders (14) and Joshulyn Shepherd (12) contributing.
With an 83-77 lead with 52 seconds left in the fourth, a win appeared safe, but not to Wheaton North. The Falcons cut it to 83-82 and forced a turnover with five seconds remaining, Emmy Gyrna (21 points) split two free throws to force overtime.
“We knew we had to keep playing hard, keep playing with intensity,” Joyner said. “We had to keep playing right until it’s over.”
Overtime couldn’t have started much worse for the Hawks, as Wheaton North took leads of 90-85 and 92-87. But if the end of the fourth proved anything, this one wasn’t over.
Joyner scored inside and Acker found Shepherd and Sherrill for layups on gorgeous passes. And there they were, the Hawks leading again.
Hillcrest closed the game on a 12-0 run to manage a win in an overtime thriller.
“We’re strong, and even though it may look like we’re down, we’re not,” Sherrill said. “We’re stronger now than we were at the beginning of the year, and it’s that bond that carries us. For me, I had to stay focused for the team.”
Sherrill scored 23 of her 26 points in the second half and overtime.
Wheaton North (13-7) was paced by 24 points apiece from Chrissy Baird and Kelly Thornton with Emari Jones (12 points) chipping in.