Subject Line (article title)
Send to (required)E-mail
Send from (required)E-mail
Typical of the relentless effort she puts forth each basketball game, Libertyville point guard Eileen Knauff hustled to deflect a pass near the scorer's table.
The ball bounced hard off the referee's head, ricocheted and knocked over a clipboard on Maine South's bench and then, on the toss to the referee, crashed off a garbage can.
"There were a lot of things that happened like that," Knauff said of the third-quarter folly.
Some contact was painful during Maine South's 42-30 win in penultimate-day action of Buffalo Grove's Bison Classic on Friday.
The victory kept Maine South (5-0, 4-0 tournament) perfect on the season, while Libertyville (3-1, 3-1) suffered its first loss.
"We overcame foul trouble, we overcame a short bench, and we overcame injuries," said coach Mark Smith, whose Hawks, who play Buffalo Grove at 2 p.m. today, had only nine players due to player holiday commitments with family.
"And we played pretty well against a very, very good team."
Maine South, which jumped out a 5-0 lead in the first minute and never trailed, was led by senior Michelle Maher and 6-foot-3 junior Jacqui Grant with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Both players also left Buffalo Grove battered.
On an entry pass into the post in the final minute of the half, Grant caught a defender's elbow to her forehead, which swelled immediately. Ice helped reduce the swelling by game's end.
"Whoever hit me has a really hard elbow," Grant, who sat most of the third quarter with ice applied to her forehead, said with a smile.
"They're really aggressive," Grant added of the Wildcats. "So you got to be prepared for a lot of contact."
In the fourth quarter, Maher got poked in left eye and left the game immediately. She sported a Rocky Balboa shiner afterward.
She returned several minutes later and made 2 of 3 free throws to help Maine South ice the win.
"We got tough kids," said Smith, who called Maher one of the toughest players he's coached.
"Players were definitely going down," said Knauff, who led Libertyville with 9 points and also grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds. "It was an aggressive game."
Maine South was the aggressor on offense at the start. The Hawks hit a trio of 3-pointers in the opening quarter in building an 18-5 advantage. Libertyville committed 8 of its 19 turnovers in the first eight minutes.
Knauff's 2 baskets helped the Wildcats get within 23-17 at halftime, despite missing 5 free throws.
"I didn't feel like we came out ready to play at all, and that really disappoints me," Libertyville coach Kathie Swanson said. "We dug ourselves such a big hole. To make the comeback was great, but we're not in a position where we can afford doing that to ourselves."
"I think we were just a little intimidated at the beginning," Knauff said. "It's like we weren't really playing to our full ability. We were kind of playing scared. But then we picked it up and got our energy."
With DePaul coach Doug Bruno watching, Grant knocked down what her coach said was her first career 3-pointer on varsity. The 3 was part of the three-year varsity player's 9-point first quarter.
"She's been hitting 18-footers for a long time and now she's hitting that shot from 19, 9," Smith said. "It's an element of her game that we think is just going to continue to get better."
Grant has been offered scholarships by DePaul and South Florida.
"I didn't know he was coming, but I saw him in the stands," Grant said of Bruno. "We've talked a lot and I'm really comfortable playing in front of him. He thinks I have potential. He's a great guy."
Libertyville played its third straight game without starting forward Molly Moon, who injured her wrist in the first half of the Wildcats' season opener. Swanson said the senior will get further evaluated next week.
Kerry Risley (7 points, 6 rebounds) had missed the Wildcats' previous two games with a shoulder injury that she suffered in the opener. Nicole Kruckman had 6 rebounds and 4 steals for Libertyville, which plays Westinghouse at 12:30 p.m. today.
"The positive to take away from this is that we learned what it takes to play against a very good team -- the speed of the game, the discipline you have to play with," Swanson said. "(We) needed to see this."