Regional Final Notebook: Resurrection Goes Pedal To The Metal

By Kaleb Carter

CHICAGO — Like thieves in the night, the Bandits stole any chance of Northside mounting a significant challenge, as Resurrection College Prep raced out to a huge victory on a memorable night for the lightning-quick squad. 

Friday’s Class 3A final victory was the latest example of Resurrection’s style, a 57-26 stomping of the Mustangs in which Resurrection leaped out to an 18-0 lead due to its suffocating press, quick passing and easy buckets. 

“Everything we do is fast,” coach Jon Palicki said. “All the drills, everything is based off creating turnovers, points off turnovers, we try to score in seven seconds. As you probably saw me, comically (yelling), as soon as the other team scores, we try to get the ball up as fast as humanly possible. That’s what we do. We try to play a lot of depth, 10, 11, 12 kids. We have 11 kids that have played over 200 minutes, so that’s our style, pedal to the metal.”

Senior Christina Simonetti was the beneficiary of timely passing, running the floor for uncontested layups and good looks against the Northside zone on her way to 15 points. Beating the zone down the floor in transition is one way the Bandits thrived against Northside. But even against the zone, Resurrection felt prepared due to a six defenders versus five offensive players drill they run in practice. Simonetti has been on two regional champion teams now.

“A couple of us were on the team when we won regionals two years ago, and it was like the best day of our lives,” Simonetti said. “We really just wanted that again, especially for the younger players because we know how much it meant to us when we were that age.”

Four-year varsity player and senior guard Bridget Kovac admitted it was a tough adjustment period early on in her career to get used to Resurrection’s system. 

“It took a while to gain my confidence, but even with the older girls and as I got older, I gained more confidence and learned to take that leadership role,’ Kovac said.

Even up by 30-plus late in the second half against Northside, a three-pointer from senior Murphy Killion sent the Resurrection bench into a frenzy. With a student section loaded with classmates in whatever random dresses they could dig out of the closet, the atmosphere was remarkable in a gym that wasn’t even full.

Palicki highlighted the efforts of his assistant coaches, saying that sometimes he has to take a step back and let smart coaches do what they need to do.

“This year, it’s brought COVID, its brought kids being out,” Palicki said. “It’s brought kids being moved up and down. It’s brought, every day I feel like I was saying a prayer, ‘Please don’t have COVID today … it’s been a lot of obstacles.”

The Bandits sprinted to their student section and celebrated with classmates at the final buzzer.

“To win a regional my last year on my last game ever on my home floor, it’s just as good, but maybe a little bit better as a senior,” Kovac said.

Regional Title Upsets by Seed

(6) Canton 53, (1) Eureka 30

Being battle-tested in the Mid-Illini paid huge dividends for the Little Giants. Not too many teams that endure a 10-game losing streak will win a regional title in the same season.

(6) Carlinville 51, (2) Hillsboro 49

Carlinville lost to Hillsboro at home on Feb. 7, turned right back around and beat them. 

(4) Johnsburg 44, (1) Rosary 40

(4) Routt Catholic 57, (1) Greenfield 34

(4) Schaumburg Christian 45, (1) Harvest Christian Academy 44

One of the state’s top scorers, Summer Reid, who has a 40-point game this season, hit a miraculous shot to hand Harvest Christian Academy a hand-point defeat.

(4) Breese Mater Dei 35, (1) Freeburg 33

(4) Morton 31, (1) Peoria 27

Not much of an upset, though Peoria did defeat Morton 41-32 on Jan. 15. Both teams were consistently ranked or acknowledged among the best in the state in our Top 25 rankings. That sets up a matchup with No. 3 Galesburg in the LaSalle-Peru sectional semis.

(4) MacArthur 68, (1) Springfield 63

(5) Washington 44, (2) Peoria Notre Dame 37

Washington is rewarded for its hard-fought win with AP Class 3A No. 1 Geneseo, a top 10 team in the rankings.

(6) Lake Zurich 54, (3) Hersey 41

Lowest Seeds (6 And Lower) To Win Regional Final

Class 1A

Stockton – No. 6 Stockton defeated No. 5 Lena-Winslow 45-40 to head to the Pecatonica sectional semifinal.

St. Thomas More – No. 6 St. Thomas More beat LeRoy 50-39 to reach the Blue Ridge sectional semifinal.

Class 2A

Canton – The No. 6 seed handed Eureka a heavy loss, 53-30

Carlinville – As a 6-seed, upended No. 2 Hillsboro by two points, 51-49.

Class 3A

Payton College Prep – No. 6 Payton stomped No. 4 Hyde Park 53-29 to reach the De La Salle sectional semis.

Class 4A

Lake Zurich – The No. 6 Bears upset Hersey 54-41 to reach the Warren sectional semis. 

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