BOURBONNAIS — The colds, flu or respiratory virus that’s been sweeping through the Illinois Valley has nothing on the Bradley-Bourbonnais girls basketball squad’s defense, and on Monday night, it made it difficult for the Ottawa Lady Pirates to even draw a breath, let alone function the capable way that’s their norm.
In their own Class 4A regional opener, the Boilermakers put up a smothering three-quarter-court press that forced OHS into 20 turnovers and just four field goals in the first half and a gambling half-court defense that denied the locals their offensive option of choice, Sloan Gayan, in the lane.
In either case, the miscues led to many easy offensive opportunities for the No. 7-seeded Boilers, leading them to a 59-34 victory over 10th-seeded Ottawa here in Donald K. Turner Gym.
Sophomore Arianna Lombardi popped in 11 of her game-high 18 points in the opening blitz, six of those before the Lady Pirates could even find their second shot of the game. Her efforts and a defense that ended up causing 31 OHS turnovers lifted the hosts to 21-7 on the season and a berth in Tuesday’s semifinal against No. 2 seed Normal Community.
Ottawa, led by Gayan’s 12 points and game-high 11 rebounds, finishes 17-10.
“They were physically overpowering for us,” said Ottawa coach Brent Moore, “and their defensive pressure forced us into probably 30-plus turnovers. When you turn over the ball like we did tonight, you’re not going to win, especially against a quality team like Bradley-Bourbonnais, and that was the case tonight. Plain and simple, we turned the ball over too much and they were able to get some easy bucket off of those.
“It started their way and ended their way. We had a gameplan going in and No. 44 (Lombardi) goes off. That set the tempo, and our not being able to take care of the ball finished it.”
Lombardi’s trey from the left wing, the first two of Zoie Langlois’ 12 points and another Lombardi trey from the key put the home team up 8-0 in the first 92 seconds of the game. And the way that B-B’s pressure was forcing the Ottawa offense further and further away from the basket didn’t bode well, though Angelique Cowan got free for a floater and Gayan hit two shots, one off an inbounds play, to get OHS within 13-6.
But by the time Gayan got the Lady Pirates' only fielder of the second quarter — off a press break with 1 minute, 37 seconds left — Bradley-Bourbonnais was on its way to a 37-10 lead.
A 3-pointer by all-state candidate Mikayla Brandon at the buzzer made it 40-12 at intermission.
“There have been a lot of games where offensively we don’t look so great, so we know our bread-and-butter is our press defense,” said B-B coach Evan Tingley. “That gives us points in transition, and that’s what we have to do to compete with good teams, so we really work hard on that.”
To Ottawa’s credit, it battled gamely throughout the second half. Gayan got the last six points of her effort in the fourth, and Emily Waite fired in a 3 on the last shot of her career at OHS, but the Lady Pirates got no closer than 25. Cowan finished with nine points.
“Our gameplan was to get the ball to the middle where Sloan was, but their pressure on our perimeter players was too much for us,” Moore said. “When we were able to get the ball in the middle, good things happened. The shots were there, the layups were there, but that didn’t happen as much as we needed.
“We talked at half about having high character and taking pride, and they showed it in the second half like they have all year. I’m proud of them for that, tonight and all season.”
At Turner Gym, Bourbonnais
OTTAWA (34) — Cowan 3-11 2-2 9, Harris 1-4 2-2 4, Gayan 6-8 1-3 13, Froisland 0-2 0-0 0, Guerrero 1-7 0-0 2, Stevenson1-3 0-0 2, O’Fallon 0-1 1-1 1, Waite 1-1 0-0 3, Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Hagrelius 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-38 6-8 34.
B-B (59) — Brandon 2-7 1-2 6, BeDell 1-1 0-0 2, Evans 3-11 0-0 8, Langlois 6-9 0-0 12, Lombardi 7-14 1-1 18, Parker 3-6 0-0 6, Russell 0-2 0-0 0, Castillo 1-1 0-0 3, Mountain 2-5 0-0 4, Pallissaro 0-0 0-0 0, Quain 0-0 0-0 0. Blanchette 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-56 2-3 59.
Ottawa (17-10) 6 6 4 18 — 34
B-B (21-7) 16 24 10 9 — 59
3-point goals – Ottawa 2-12 (Waite 1-1, Cowan 1-4, Miller 0-1, Harris 0-2, Guerrero 0-4), B-B 7-17 (Lombardi 3-4, Evans 2-6, Castillo 1-1, Brandon 1-3, Mountain 0-1, Russell 0-2). Rebounds – Ottawa 32 (Gayan 11), B-B 23 (Brandon 8). Turnovers – Ottawa 31, B-B 13. Total fouls (none fouled out) – Ottawa 5, B-B 11.