BEECHER | Standout Beecher senior Amari Griffin and her Ladycat teammates have an opportunity to win the program's first regional title since 2007, and they can do it on their home floor this upcoming week.
It won't be an easy task. The Ladycats are the No. 3 seed behind top-seeded Peotone and No. 2 Seneca in the Class 2A Beecher Regional.
"We have a good chance of winning regionals this year if we just shut down two teams -- two big games -- I think we'll take it," said Griffin, who leads the Ladycats with 17.8 ppg and 11.3 rpg.
Beecher plays Tuesday against No. 6 seed Manteno (5-20) and could likely face Seneca in Wednesday's semifinals with a win over the Panthers. Seneca opens against No. 7 seed Wilmington (2-21) on Wednesday. Peotone (23-3) is in the opposite bracket with the bye and plays the winner of Monday's game between Coal City (13-14) and Reed-Custer (7-19).
"We're 19-6 and we're the third seed, so you know this is top regional, and these are top teams," Beecher coach Mike Meyer said. "We've got to play our best. We have to play better than we've probably played all year to beat them."
Beecher has gone 1-2 against Peotone this season with two of the games decided by a combined seven points.
"We pulled it out once, and the other time they pulled it out by two points," senior Paige Wehling said. "Our third time we showed up a completely different team, and they killed us."
Beecher lost to Peotone 27-26 in the Ladycat Fall Classic on Nov. 22 before topping the Blue Devils 49-43 in the Momence Christmas Tournament on Dec. 28. Beecher lost 52-23 at Peotone on Jan. 4.
Wehling said they'd love to get another shot at the Blue Devils.
"We can definitely compete against them, and I definitely think we can beat them, especially with our point guard (Rachel Lee) coming back," she said.
Before the Ladycats can dream about cutting down the nets, they'll first have to get by a scrappy Manteno squad.
"I don't know a lot about Manteno, but I think about what we've been about all year is defense," Meyer said. "We need to play solid defense, and we need to get the people the ball who score, and that's Amari, that's Ashley Carroll."
Carroll and freshman Danielle Snuckel, who are both averaging more than seven points per game, scored in double figures along with Griffin in the 48-44 win against St. Anne on Jan. 23.
"If we can have three balanced scorers like that in double figures, we're going to be tough to beat, but it depends on how we play defense," Meyer said.
Wehling adds 5.0 ppg and provides leadership on the floor.
"Every time we have an opportunity to get a shot, we have to make it,' Wehling said. "Turnovers have to be under 10 at least."
Carroll, a junior, said the inside-outside game on offense could help the Ladycats battle for the championship.
"We just need to come out with the same intensity and the same determination that we did in the game that we beat (Peotone)," she said. "Just play hard."
Lee will play a key role off the bench. She has played the last three or four games since returning from an injury suffered in early December.
"I need her decision-making, and I need her dribbling to take care of the basketball and get us in the right spots," Meyer said.
Griffin, a four-year starter, would love to close out her Beecher career with a regional championship.
"I'd like to get one," she said. "We had a chance my freshman year, and I think we could do it again this year."