West Springfield senior Amy Berglund’s offensive prowess has been well documented as she’s accumulated more than 1,000 career points. But with just more than a minute remaining in Thursday’s 6A North region semifinal at Robinson and her team up two points, Berglund used her keen eyes and length on defense to block a shot and steal two passes in the backcourt.
The Spartans were in a half-court man-to-man defense, but Berglund was the lone West Springfield player in the back court, and the gamble paid dividends. With Centreville trailing, the Wildcats were forced to foul Berglund after each change of possession, and she went 6-for-6 from the line as West Springfield earned a 60-52 victory.
“I knew it was a close game and this is my last season, so I wanted to do whatever I needed to win,” said Berglund, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
The 12th-ranked Spartans (25-1) avenged a 54-52 loss to the Wildcats in last season’s AAA Northern Region quarterfinals with their win Thursday. Junior Emily Reba didn’t score in that game, but on Thursday, she scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half off the bench.
“We knew we had to really step it up, and I wanted revenge on them,” Reba said. “We had to play good defense on them because they have good shooters, so we had to hustle and get back on defense.”
No. 19 Centreville (22-5) knocked down seven three-pointers and fought hard, but never led.
West Springfield held a 34-25 advantage at the half and a back-and-forth third quarter saw the lead increase to 10 after three quarters.
Senior Katie Blumer (eight points) made two three-pointers to cut the lead to 48-45 midway through the final quarter.
Centreville would get as close as two after Ailyn Kelly (team-high 15 points) split free throws, but Berglund’s defensive stops sealed the victory.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Stonewall Jackson forward Nicole Floyd made her first six shots, finished with 32 points and had a fantastic battle with Madison forward Kelly Koshuta in the post.
Koshuta set a new career high with 39 points, but the Raiders picked up the win, 78-72, and will face West Springfield at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Robinson.
“We were battling back and forth and she’s an excellent player,” Floyd said of Koshuta. “She knows how to use her body well and she did an excellent job today. I can’t take anything from her. She’s a great player.”
The Raiders held an 18-point lead early in the third quarter, but Koshuta scored 16 points in the third to cut it to 57-50.
Madison (19-9) clawed its way to within two with just more than a minute remaining, but the Raiders shot 9-for-12 down the stretch to clinch a spot in Saturday’s final.