As Waubonsie Valley's Jared Brownridge and Hinsdale Central's Brad Anlauf dueled on the scoreboard, you still knew the game would come down to defense.
Hinsdale Central turned it up a notch midway through the second quarter, sparking the Red Devils to a 66-55 win in Wednesday's Class 4A Downers Grove South regional semifinals.
Tenth-seeded Hinsdale Central (17-9) will play for its first regional final since 2007 when the Red Devils face the host Mustangs (22-5), seeded second in the East Aurora sectional, on Friday.
Downers South beat Hinsdale Central 71-56 in last Wednesday's West Suburban Conference crossover game.
"DG South is a really good team, but I think we have the personnel to beat them," said Anlauf, whose 27 points fell a point shy of his career high from last season. "We definitely realize what level we have to play at to beat them."
Brownridge worked extremely hard to notch his 30 points, 16 coming in the fourth quarter as Waubonsie Valley (18-9) tried to rally. The junior guard's steal and breakaway layup narrowed the gap to 56-48 with 2:30 left in the game, but Hinsdale Central answered with 6 straight points to reclaim command.
The Warriors forced 9 of Hinsdale Central's 22 turnovers in the fourth quarter but couldn't take advantage with a significant run.
"Even though it looked like it was slipping away, me and my teammates just didn't want to give up so we just kept fighting until the end," Brownridge said. "In the third and fourth quarter we were playing as hard as we could defensively and tried to get all the stops we could, but they made some good offensive plays."
A 10-2 run to start the second quarter pushed the Warriors to a 20-17 lead before Hinsdale Central's 21-5 burst put the Red Devils ahead to stay. A Peter Thaus 3-pointer gave them a 38-25 lead.
"We talked about the fact that the defense at the start of the third quarter was going to be crucial, and I thought that was the key point of the game," said Hinsdale Central coach Nick Latorre. "There was about a five-minute stretch that I thought we did a great job defensively."
Freshman Matt Rafferty scored 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds for Hinsdale Central, while Bryan Jefferson scored 9 points for Waubonsie Valley, which next season returns 90 percent of its scoring led by Brownridge.
"We just struggled and we couldn't get any momentum," said Warriors coach Steve Weemer. "It was one of those deals where they were the better team tonight."