It took putbacks to put Kaneland back into sectionals.
The Knights received and scored baskets off of three clutch offensive rebounds late in the fourth quarter to hold off a surging Yorkville team during Thursday's Class 3A Yorkville regional championship, 37-34.
It was the third meeting between the two schools, which split their two contests during Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference play.
"It really came down to rebounding," Yorkville coach Luke Engelhardt said. "We missed consecutive rebounds and basically gave them uncontested putbacks and that was the game."
Kaneland (19-9) took an 18-8 lead early in the second quarter on a steal and layup from Sarah Grams. It wouldn't last though as the Knights suddenly came down with turnover fever.
The Knights committed 10 of their 26 turnovers in the second quarter and only scored two points during the next 9 minutes and 51 seconds. Their inability to handle the ball afforded the Lady Foxes with plenty of opportunities and they took advantage, tying the game at 20 on a field goal by Jordann Dhuse (20 points) nearly midway through the third quarter.
"We talked about how it's going to probably come down to turnovers and rebounding," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "Yorkville battled and we didn't limit our turnovers. We need to do a much better job than that."
Yorkville (20-8) was staring at the end of its season as it opened the fourth quarter trailing 29-22. Apparently not ready to turn in their uniforms, the Lady Foxes drained back-to-back 3-pointers in the first minute of the quarter to highlight a 10-0 run that put them ahead, 32-29, with 5:14 remaining.
"We were waiting for it all night and finally the lid opened up," Engelhardt said. "It was nice to see them respond, get a lead, and get the crowd into it."
Facing the reality of now having to rally or call it a season, Kaneland's Ashley Prost (10 points) took over. Prost had already scored three field goals late in the third quarter to push the Knights ahead. Now, it was her putback that pulled them within 32-31.
After a pair of Dhuse free throws, it was Kelly Evers who scored on a putback. Then, 44 seconds later, Emma Bradford followed her own miss for an offensive rebound, bucket and a 35-34 lead with 1:30 left.
"It was brutal when they went on that run but we kept our heads up," Evers said. "We kept fighting and once we got those putbacks we felt like we were back in the game."
Grams had a breakaway layup with 17 seconds left, but the Knights still couldn't celebrate until a 3-point attempt from Yorkville's Ali Hester fell short as time expired.
"I don't think we were ever comfortable tonight, but we were confident," said Kaneland's Allyson O'Herron, who led the Knights with 11 points. "We knew we could do it and encouraged each other to do it."
And they did it, advancing to sectionals for the first time since 2005. The Knights will play the winner of Friday's game between Hampshire and Woodstock North in the Sycamore sectional at 8:10 p.m. Monday.