CHICAGO | In the first half of Wednesday's playoff game with St. Francis de Sales, guard Shaquon Alexander and forward Eddie Alcantara looked as if they could guide their Hales Franciscan team as far as the Spartans wish to go.
The pair scored 40 of the team's 42 points in the critical first half of the Spartans' 80-60 Class 2A regional semifinal win over the Pioneers at Chicago Universty High.
The second-seeded Spartans (8-13) advanced to face top-seeded Seton Academy (24-4) in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Ratner Center Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Chicago.
The top-seeded Sting (24-4) advanced with a dramatic double-overtime victory over fourth-seeded U-High prior to the Spartans' victory.
Alexander scored 16 of his 23 points in the first quarter when the Spartans took a nine-point lead. In the second quarter, it was Alcantara's turn, as the forward scored 12 of his 19 points in that stanza to give the Spartans a 15-point advantage at halftime.
Spartan Edward Jones hit a putback just before the halftime buzzer. It was the only points for the Spartans in the first half that weren't scored by Alexander and Alcantara.
"Those two -- every time they came down the court, it seemed like they were hitting a two or three against us," St. Francis de Sales coach Kevin Wolfe said of Alexander and Alcantara. "They put us way in the hole, and we had to go to a man defense, and then they outquicked us."
The Spartans cooled off in the second half, but the Pioneers (14-13) were unable to put together a run to capitalize on the opportunity. The Pioneers pulled as close as 13 points off a putback by Keith Williams, but the Spartans were able to fatten the lead to 21 heading into the final quarter.
The Pioneers were led by Terrone Parham (15 ponts) and Willie Orange (12).
"It's going to be a good game between Hales and Seton Academy, I'll tell you that," Wolfe said.