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Hughes beats buzzer to lift Eastland over Amboy on big night in HS sports

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Eastland GW Amboy

LANARK (WREX) — It felt like a championship atmosphere. And the ending was reminiscent of last year's Sectional championship game between Eastland and Amboy, with Eastland's Natalie Hughes playing the Lydia Coatney role and beating the buzzer to lift the Lady Cougars to a 51-49 win over Amboy in a battle of unbeatens.

Amboy came into the day ranked atop the 1-A girls basketball poll, with Eastland right behind at No. 2, and the game lived up to its billing. Amboy jumped out to a 12-3 lead after the 1st quarter, thanks to their dynamic duo of Mallory Powers and Abi Payne.

But Eastland's Karlie Krogman came out on a mission in the 2nd quarter, sparking a 10-0 run that would give the Lady Cougars the lead. That was short-lived as Powers hit a 3-pointer later in the 2nd quarter to surpass the 1,000-point mark for her career. Amboy took a 24-18 lead into the locker room and kept a lead until late in the 4th quarter. That's when Eastland picked up from outside with a sequence of three 3-pointers from Hughes, Chloe Sweitzer and Hughes again to tie the game at 47 with a minute to play. Eastland took the lead on a pair of free throws, but Amboy tied it off an inbounds play to Powers inside with less than 10 seconds left. Hughes pushed the ball up court, released just before the buzzer sounded and splashed home the game-winner.

"It's an incredible feeling, especially with these girls," Hughes, a transfer from West Carroll, said after hitting the game-winner. She says she's never hit a shot like that in her life. Not a bad time to start.

Eastland and Amboy get to run it back Thursday night in Amboy.


In NIC-10 girls hoops, Hononegah stayed perfect in the conference, beating fellow unbeaten Harlem, 52-31, as Hononegah continues to roll


Rockford Lutheran and Indian Creek were both undefeated and ranked in the top 3 of their respective classes in the latest AP rankings. Lutheran's depth won out in the end, as the Crusaders wore down Indian Creek to win 97-78. Indian Creek was undefeated and ranked 2nd in 1-A, while Lutheran came into the day also unbeaten and ranked 3rd in 2-A. Zach Derus led the way with 32 points.


Three undefeated NIC-10 swim teams met Tuesday night, with Hononegah holding off the Belvidere Co-op and Harlem to take the edge in the race for the conference title. This year's conference meet will only determine individual champs, with the team title decided in dual meets.


Derek Bayne

Derek Bayne joined 13 WREX as the sports director in December of 2011. He grew up in the Chicago suburbs and moved back to Illinois after working several years in North Carolina. For any sports story ideas or tips, you can email

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