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Jazz Brown and Jenna Hernandez lead Angels past Fieldcrest in OT and into 2A Sweet 16

"Well we're back to .500 and into the Sweet 16," Joliet Catholic Academy Angels' coach Jim O'Brien said Tuesday night.

No sweeter words were spoken for the JCA girls (17-17), that just three years ago finished the season at 0-27.

On Tuesday night in the IHSA Class 2A Wilmington Sectional semifinal, the Angels (17-17) outlasted the Minonk-Fieldcrest 52-42 in overtime.

With the victory, the Angels will take on Seneca (26-7) Thursday night at 7 p.m. for the IHSA Class 2A Wilmington Sectional championship. Seneca defeated Prairie Central 50-49 in Tuesday's first sectional semifinal.

Minonk-Fieldcrest (28-5) grabbed a 9-5 lead after one quarter. The ultra-closely contested battle was tied at 15-15 at the half, 25-25 at the end of three quarters and 40-40 at the end of regulation.

In the overtime it was all Angels.

Saving her best for last, Angel super-freshman Jazz Brown, who scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, scored with 3:20 left. Forcing one of the 24 Fieldcrest turnovers in the game, Brown was fouled and made one of two free throws for a 43-40 Angel lead with 2:54 left.

Angel junior Jenna Hernandez split a pair of free throws for a 44-40 Angel lead with 2:25 remaining.

The newest member of the JCA 1,000-career point club, senior Mia Bertino, had not scored a point through the

first 34 minutes of action.

In a span of 30 seconds, Bertino (four points,10 rebounds) nailed a pair of crucial free-throws and scored on an inside bucket to extend the Angel lead to 48-40 with 1:12 left.

"I didn't have a productive night," Bertino said. "I only scored four points but I am proud of myself that I was able to score my points during a crucial point of the game."

The Knights closed to 48-42 with 58 seconds left, before Hernandez with two free-throws and Brown,with one of her many super-drives to the hoop for two, closed out the scoring.

Brown scored 20 points, hauled down eight rebounds and picked up four crucial steals.

"I really was struggling tonight. I missed a lot of shots until the end," Brown said. "In the fourth quarter and the overtime I just went out and played hard and would not let us lose.

"What a great victory. We continue to do great things for the JCA program. I want to thank all of my coaches and my great teammates. I am so proud of Jenna for the way she played tonight and Mia, when we needed her most, she came through for us. Emma was great tonight, too. I just love this team."

Hernandez picked up a double-double for the Angels, scoring 16 points and hauling down 11 rebounds.

"I am so beyond happy for our great victory," Hernandez said. "It was just crazy out there. We worked so hard to get here and I just did not want it to end. We all came together in the overtime, played outstanding defense and came away with the win. Seneca is very good and we look forward to playing them on Thursday."

Angel junior Emma Jay hit double-digits on the night with 10 points. Jay buried a pair of long-range three-point bombs to help lead the Angels to victory.

"It's all about our teamwork," Jay said. "We move the ball around so well that we all get open looks, at the basket. We drive so well. We are playing so well at that right time. Seneca is very good and I felt they were not as talented as Prairie Central but they showed more grit and that's why they won."

"Jazz just took over the game, in the fourth quarter and overtime," O'Brien said. "She's special and just a freshman. Jen Hernandez was top-notch today for us —16 and 11 for Jen — unreal. I am so happy for these kids, especially the few that were here for that season, three years ago."

Bertino and Jay had request from all the Angels to their Joliet Catholic Academy classmates.

"On Thursday, we would love to see our 'Hill Zone' student cheering section in Wilmington," the duo added.


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