NORMAL — For the Minooka girls basketball team, it could not have possibly gotten off to a much better start.
The finish was a different story, however.
Still, it was a win to start action in the Class 4A Normal Community Regional as the Indians defeated Normal West by a 57-48 score.
Senior guard Erin Heide came out firing and hit two 3-pointers right off the bat, junior forward Kelly Carnagio dropped in a basket at 5:19 and then again about two and a half minutes later, leading to a timeout by Normal West coach Angie Condron.
It didn't slow anything down, though.
Out of the stoppage, Heide hit another trey, Emily Knaub made one of two free throws and Heide two more free throws and Minooka led 16-1 with 1:25 left to go in the first quarter.
"That's Heide and those threes in the opening stretch," Minooka coach Ray Liberatore said. "They were doing the run and jump and we were getting some great looks in the rotation. Then they got out of that and then we had to work a little harder after that."
Indeed they did.
West started chipping away at the lead and got within 20-7 by the end of the first quarter and 33-22 by halftime. Then by the end of the third it was 41-35 and it got even tighter from there.
In fact, it was a 47-45 game with 4:14 left and a 49-48 game at 3:17.
The difference turned out to be freshman Brooklyn Bachmann and her accuracy from the free throw line. She made seven of eight down the stretch to preserve the win for the Indians.
"She's just a freshman but she enjoys being in that situation," Liberatore said. "She started the year like that but then had a little bit of a lull. But in a big pressure situation tonight she was really comfortable and that was huge."
Minooka is now 20-6 on the season and plays for the regional championship Saturday back at Normal Community High School at 7 p.m.