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Upset-minded Warriors can't quite slay Dragons

RURAL STREATOR — The stellar end-of-season run of basketball the Woodland Warriors have put together the past few weeks ended Wednesday with a 60-52 loss to the higher-seeded Grant Park Dragons here in the semifinals of the Woodland Class 1A Regional.
Not, however, until the final horn.
Woodland (the sub-sectional's No. 10 seed) and Grant Park (the No. 4 seed) were tied as late as 45-45 with 4 minutes, 26 seconds remaining, and the Warriors were still within one skinny point inside of two minutes. That was before a rash of Woodland turnovers, Grant Park's aggressiveness and maybe a touch of nerves conspired against the regional hosts, allowing the Dragons (16-11) to piece together a sudden 10-0 run and pull away. That sets up Friday's regional title matchup against top-seeded Ridgeview, a 63-33 winner over Cornerstone Christian in Wednesday's early semifinal.
Woodland finishes 9-20, four of those wins coming consecutively before Wednesday's season-ending defeat.
"Other than a win, I couldn't ask for much more," said first-year Warriors head coach Connor Kaminke. "We battled for the entire 32 minutes. There were spurts where we looked very, very good and maintained leads, and there were spurts where we slipped up and let them get back, and a lack of experience showed late.
"(Grant Park) is a very good team, they shoot the ball well, but I'm proud of our guys for how we played these past couple weeks and how far we've come this season."
Led by junior guard Kyle Voytko's explosive 32-point effort, Woodland overcame an early 18-7 deficit to storm back for a 22-21 lead 2:16 before halftime on a pair of Voytko free throws and extend that advantage to 29-25 at the break on a Collin Hjerpe-to-Voytko 3 with three seconds remaining.
"I couldn't do anything about him," Grant Park coach Bryce LaMore said of Woodland's No. 21, who had 22 points at halftime before being slowed — relatively speaking — to 10 second-half points by box-and-1 and help-heavy zone defenses. "The last resort was the box-and-1, and that kind of did slow him down a little when we could get two dudes out on him.
"That was a struggle trying to figure out what to do with that kid."
With Logan Weissgerber shadowing Voytko, the Dragons slowly but surely caught and passed the Warriors on the scoreboard, leading 37-36 heading into the fourth and 45-41 before a Trevor Derossett from Chandler Hillebrenner basket followed by two Hillebrenner free throws with 4:26 remaining tied things at 45-45.
A Seth Seiler 3-pointer from the corner — a well the Dragons offense went to often throughout the night against Woodland's constantly-changing array of defenses — 25 seconds later gave Grant Park the lead for good. Although Woodland would stay close, the aforementioned blast of turnovers over the final two minutes ended the hosts' upset hopes as well as their season.
"Honestly, I think that's one of those where we have not been in those situations that often, especially in games of this magnitude," Kaminke said. "I think when shots started falling for them, we slowly in the back of our minds got a little nervous and got a little unsure of the outcome.
"But you know, you've got to give a lot of credit to (the Dragons). They hit some big shots down the stretch when they needed them, and they made big plays."
Point guard Austin Jacobson finished with 20 points to lead Grant Park, which shot 44.7 percent from the field to WHS's 36.4.
In addition to Votko's 32-point, five-steal performance, Tyler Jenkins scored nine points for the Warriors, Derossett had five, and Hillebrenner put in two points, six rebounds and a game-best five assists before fouling out with 8.6 seconds remaining and receiving a standing ovation from the Warrior Dome crowd.
At Warrior Dome, rural Streator
Grant Park 60, Woodland 52
WOODLAND (52) — Voytko 9-19 8-10 32, Jenkins 3-8 2-2 9, Hjerpe 1-5 0-2 2, Redd 1-1 0-0 2, Hillebrenner 0-5 2-2 2, Derossett 2-6 0-0 5, Meredith 0-0 0-0 0, Bundy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-44 12-16 52.
GRANT PARK (60) — Jacobson 6-12 5-7 20, Lehnert 3-5 2-3 9, Theisen 0-3 1-2 1, Weissgerber 4-8 1-1 9, Benson 2-5 0-0 4, Schneider 1-2 0-0 2, David Palan 4-7 0-0 12, Dan Palan 0-3 0-0 0, Markland 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 21-47 9-13 60.
Woodland (9-20)  5 24  7 16 — 52
Grant Park (16-11) 11 14 12 23 — 60
3-point goals - Woodland 8-20 (Voytko 6-11, Derossett 1-1, Jenkins 1-6, Hjerpe 0-1, Hillebrenner 0-1); Grant Park 9-21 (David Palan 4-7, Jacobson 3-7, Lehnert 1-1, Markland 1-2, Theisen 0-1, Dan Palan 0-3). Rebounds - Woodland 23 (Hillebrenner 6, Voytko 5); Grant Park 29 (Jacobson 8, Benson 5). Assists - Woodland 11 (Hillebrenner 5, Hjerpe 3); Grant Park 11 (Weissgerber 3). Steals - Woodland 13 (Voytko 5, Hjerpe 4); Grant Park 3 (Lehnert 2). Blocked shots - Woodland 2 (Redd 2); Grant Park 7 (Dan Palan 2, Benson 2). Turnovers - Woodland 14; Grant Park 15. Total fouls (fouled out) - Woodland 18 (Hillebrenner); Grant Park 17.

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