NEW CHICAGO | Bowman Academy's motto this season is One Team, One Goal.
It may not be original, but it's definitely heartfelt.
The Eagles took a baby step Friday night toward winning a 2A state championship by sending Whiting home, 68-55, in the River Forest Sectional semifinals -- but it wasn't easy.
With the score knotted at 38-38 early in the third quarter, Bowman (17-6) settled down to finish on a 30-17 run to set up tonight's title game with Wheeler.
The Bearcats also had their hands full with Lake Station in the opener before pulling away, 42-30.
Whiting had lost to Bowman twice in the regular season, 62-46 and 67-59.
"It was a different Whiting team tonight. They came with more intensity and that kind of riled us a bit," Bowman coach Janora Holmes said. "We have to minimize our turnovers and there's no need to rush the tempo like we did.
"We were trying to do a bit too much."
Princess German topped Bowman with 24 points, Rashawnda Dunlap was unstoppable inside with 22 and 6-foot-2 freshman Joshlynn King had six blocked shots. DeJah Joshua added 10 points.
Brianna Blackwell, Abigil Bondi and Citlali Lopez all had 15 points apiece for the Oilers (16-6).
"I was just playing my game -- going to the hoop strong and getting my shots," Dunlap said. "My teammates kept feeding me the ball and that's what I love about this group.
"We are a team, not one player. One team, one goal, that's our motto."
Bowman's losses this season are all against larger schools. Tonight's championship game will mark its first meeting with Wheeler.
In the opener, outmanned Lake Station scrapped until the final buzzer in falling to Wheeler, holding the Bearcats to a six-point fourth quarter.
"I liked Lake Station's gumption. They had us off balance all night," Wheeler coach Dustin Nelson said. "They had five seniors who obviously didn't want to go home tonight.
"They challenged us for every loose ball. They challenged us for every rebound. I told the girls to throw everything from tonight in the trash can and forget about it.
"We've got Bowman to prepare for."
The Eagles (6-15) dressed only eight players and trailed by 17 points to start the fourth, 36-19, before cutting it to eight, 38-30, on two Amber Dwyer free throws with 3:42 left.
Paige Finch led the Bearcats (17-6) with 11 points and was among four teammates with five rebounds or more.
Amber Dwyer had 18 points for Lake Station. Joanna Dwyer and Desiree Parrillo grabbed eight rebounds each.
Both teams had met on Dec. 2, with Wheeler cruising, 77-36.