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By Brad Spencer
Update: OPRF defeated Bogan 70-54 to win the Hinsdale Central Regional title on Friday night. The Huskies take on Whitney Young on Monday in the semifinal of the Trinity Sectional (7:30 p.m.).
For Caroline Kelty to shoulder the load and carry the OPRF girls basketball team through thrilling games is no surprise to anyone.
The senior added yet another monumental performance to her hoops résumé by scoring a career-high 39 points to lead her Huskies to a 70-56 upset over Hinsdale Central on the Red Devils' homecourt in the Class 4A Regional semifinals on Thursday night.
The third time was the charm for the 11th-seeded Huskies (13-17), who had previously dropped two games to fifth seed Hinsdale Central during the regular season, one in which Kelty scored 38 points in. The senior scattered her scoring throughout this game, tallying 11 in the opening quarter and 12 in the third.
"This game sums up Caroline's career," said OPRF head coach J.P. Coughlin. "Everybody in the gym knows she is going to the basket, yet, she continues to attack and dares you to stop her. Her strength and body control at 5-foot-6 is ridiculous."
Besides Kelty's performance, which included 14 rebounds, OPRF's defense did a commendable job holding Hinsdale Central's Gabrielle Rush to just 16 points. In the first match-up between the two teams, Rush scored 30 points. In the second meeting, she rattled off 36 points. But on Thursday night, the sophomore was held to just one basket in the first half. Maeve Connelly, Hailey Hoye, and Helen Onyenso all took turns guarding Rush.
"The record for this team has never been really good, but they have always remained confident," said Coughlin of his Huskies. "They have known for three weeks that they were going to win this game and showed a tremendous confident poise in a hostile environment against a really good team."
Hoye added eight points in the win for OPRF, while Cuyla Hall and Emily Vachon combined for 12 points.
In the first round of the regional, the Huskies blasted Juarez 89-10, but they did it in very sportsmanlike fashion. OPRF didn't press and only played its main starters for less than a minute. Playing in their first varsity games sophomore Victoria Waters finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals, while freshmen Katie Mullins added 14 points. Tika Hurt also had 16 points for the Huskies, and Emily Schreck finished with 10 points and five assists.
The Huskies take on a familiar opponent in fourth-seeded Bogan (21-4) for tonight's Hinsdale Central Regional championship. The Huskies lost a nail-biter to Bogan 49-44 at the Marist Holiday Tournament back in December. Tip-off tonight is 7:30 p.m.