Sydney Crouch (22) puts up a shot during the Chatt Insurance Holiday Invitational girls championship game on Friday night. (DHI Media/Pat Agler)
Sydney Crouch (22) puts up a shot during the Chatt Insurance Holiday Invitational girls championship game on Friday night. (DHI Media/Pat Agler)
ROCKFORD — Friday night’s Chatt Insurance Holiday Tournament girls final between Ridgemont and Parkway had it all — superb effort, big plays by both teams at both ends from expected and unexpected sources, missed opportunities, and major contributors fouling out. Lastly, though, it had an eight-foot pull-up bank shot by the Golden Gophers’ Meadow Cromer with two seconds left in the second overtime to give Ridgemont (6-6) a 61-59 win and a big trophy.

It was, of course, a heart-breaking loss for Parkway (7-4). The Panthers will, no doubt, look back at the fourth quarter as the one that got away. They led 46-43 on a Bailey Bates layup with 2:15 left on the clock, and that lead held up until only 38 seconds remained. In those last 38 seconds, Parkway went to the line three times, missing two one-and-one front-ends and also both ends of a two-shot foul. Meanwhile, Ridgemont got an in-bounds bucket from Cromer at 0:22 and one of two free throws by Priscilla Howland at 0:12 to send the game into overtime at 46-all.

Parkway started the first overtime by missing six straight free throws. Ridgemont then took a 49-46 lead on three Howland points – free throw and in-bounds layup. The Panthers were far from finished. Bates hit two free throws, and Sydney Crouch one of two – 49-49 at 0:51. The Gophers’ Jen Jordan swished two pressure-packed free throws at 0:19, but Parkway’s Sophia Miller ripped a 12-foot baseliner (assist Bates) with 0:04 on the clock to send it into a second extra period — 51-51.

The second overtime saw three ties and six lead changes, the Panthers hanging in there with big plays from Bates and Crouch, the Golden Gophers staying in it on free throws. Ridgemont cashed in only one of two freebies in five separate trips during those four minutes, the last time giving them a 59-57 lead with 26 seconds left. Parkway’s Shaelyn Thomas tied it with a nothing-but-net 15-foot baseliner at 0:11, but the Gophers hustled down the court before the Panther defense could get set, and Cromer hit the game-winner.

Crouch started the game with a triple from the right corner, but Ridgemont floor general Faith Jenkins hit two consecutive straightaway threes. Parkway’s zone defense adjusted to Jenkins, and it would be a long time before she got off another shot. Meanwhile, the Panthers took a 16-10 lead after one.

Ridgemont landed three 3-pointers in the second quarter, which they won 13-3 to lead 23-19 at the break. Both teams were ice-cold from the field in the first half, but the Gophers chucked up 19 three-point shots, hitting five, while Parkway was only 2-for-6 from long range.

Parkway’s field goal shooting picked up considerably in the second half, while Ridgemont, unable to penetrate the Panther zone, continued to launch mostly threes, hitting just enough to keep a 36-35 lead after three. At that point, free throws were not a factor – Parkway had hit 4 of 6, and Ridgemont hadn’t even shot any; that would soon change drastically.

Five Panthers – Miller, Leah Harshman, Crouch, Haley Hawk, and Bates — scored early in the fourth quarter to give Parkway the aforementioned 46-43 lead.

Jenkins, who would later be named the tournament’s MVP, fouled out early in the first overtime. Miller and Hawk both went out on fouls early in the second extra period.

Parkway was far better from the field – 45 percent (21 of 47), including 36 percent (4 of 11) from three, compared to Ridgemont’s 28 percent (20 of 71) overall, 26 percent (9 of 34) from long range. However, the Gophers hit five more shots from beyond the arc. Neither team was good from the foul line – Ridgemont 57 percent (12 of 21), Parkway 48 percent (13 of 27). Significantly, the Golden Gophers won the boards 42-34 and had fewer turnovers, 20-25.

Hawk, Crouch, and Miller led Parkway’s scoring with 19, 16, and 10. Hawk was 7 for 8 from the line, and sub Claire Eichler was 2 for 2 – meaning the rest of the team went 4 for 17. Crouch was the dominant rebounder for both teams, especially at the defensive end.

Jenkins, Cromer, Howland, and Jordan led the balanced Gophers with 14, 13, 12, and 12.

The all-tournament team, in addition to MVP Jenkins, included Hawk, Crouch, Howland, and two Lincolnview Lancers: Alena Looser and Kayla Schimmoeller.



Faith Jenkins 14, Shaylee McGrath 7, Priscilla Howland 12, Meadow Cromer 13, Jen Jordan 12, Mackenzie Rader 0, Nadia Martino 0, Hannah Shoffner 0, Shauna Richardson 3.


Sophia Miller 10, Sydney Crouch 16, Bailey Bates 6, Leah Harshman 4, Haley Hawk 19, Shaelyn Thomas 2, Claire Eichler 2.

Ridgemont 10 13 13 10 5 10 - 61

Parkway 16 3 16 11 5 8 - 59

3-point shooting: RM 9/34 (Jenkins 4, Jordan 3, Cromer, Richardson), PW 4/11 (Crouch 2, Hawk 2). Rebounds: RM 42, PW 34. Fouls: RM 21, PW 19. Turnovers: RM 20, PW 25.