ROCKTON - A pair of prodigious streaks came to a ringing close Saturday evening at Hononegah.
The Boylan girls basketball team's 49-game NIC-10 winning streak? History.
That five-game hex the Titans had put on the Indians? Poof. Gone, in a smoke of transition baskets, 3-point bombs and tough-as-nails defense.
The NIC-10 showdown, the one every Indian had pointed to since the Titans defeated the Indians 66-59 on Jan. 10, ended in a 73-48 Hononegah rout. It also meant the Indians had at least a share of the coveted NIC-10 championship, finishing with a 17-1 record in conference play.
The standouts for Hononegah were senior Jordan King, the NIC-10's all-time leading scorer, and Cali Schmitz, like King a four-year starter.
King got the Indians off to a terrific start as her and Boylan star Payton Kennedy battled in a wild first quarter that saw the Indians lead 24-19.
The future Marquette Golden Eagle lit up the Titans for 22 points, while Kennedy scored 15 of her 19 in the first half.
Schmitz played perhaps the finest game of her decorated career, running the floor with abandon, knocking down free throws and finishing at the rim. She scored 19 points in the final regular-season home game of her career.
The game came to a crashing halt with 51 seconds remaining in the first half. With the Indians leading 38-27, Boylan senior point guard Frankie Schiro tripped over a Hononegah defender and fell face-first on the floor. An ambulance was called and Schiro was carted off the floor on a stretcher.
When the game resumed, Schmitz split a pair of free throws, and the Indians eventually took a 39-30 lead into the shortened halftime.
The Indians extended the advantage to 53-41 after three quarters, putting themselves into familiar territory.
In perhaps the most painful loss in recent Indians history, Hononegah held a 10-point lead over the Titans in last year's showdown in Rockton. They blew that lead, allowing Boylan to finish the season undefeated.
That wouldn't be the narrative Saturday night. Kennedy fouled out with six minutes left, and point guard Julia Burns threw the knockout punch, hitting a corner trey to put the Indians up 60-44 with 4:34 left and putting the near-capacity crowd up for grabs.
It was exactly the type of performance the Indians needed as they head to IHSA Class 4A regional play. The Indians will play the winner of Monday night's Harlem-Guilford game. An added bonus is that the Indians will host the regional.
Indians coach Randy Weibel said the team's ability to close the game strong could pay dividends down the road.
"Kennedy having four fouls was a key," Weibel said. "I felt like we could attack her, and that's what we did. I thought we spread the floor a little bit and only took really good shots. Last year, I think we turned the ball over too much. It didn't happen this year. I don't know how this can't be a confidence builder for us."
King said the performance of her teammates was critical.
"I couldn't be more proud of my teammates," King said. "Cali had an amazing game, and she deserves it. She's worked her butt off. I see it in practices, and tonight she showed it to everyone in the game."
It's very possible, for the second straight season, Boylan-Hononegah will have a chapter three in the sectional finals. Should that meeting occur, the Indians will enter if with the knowledge they have what it takes to take down the Titans.