Shyanne Ludwick couldn't wait to play a basketball game in 2013.
After all, she and her Grayslake North teammates were stuck on 13 wins after losing the final game of the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic way back on Dec. 21.
Who would feel lucky about that?
"It feels good to be back," Ludwick said. "Too long of a break."
Grayslake North scored 13 points in the opening quarter, got a game-high 13 points from Brittney Thibeaux, enjoyed a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and held off visiting Woodstock 45-34 in a Fox Valley Fox Division battle Friday night.
No, it wasn't a 13-point win. And, no, No. 13, junior guard Sam Karnuth, did not play for Grayslake North. But the Knights weren't complaining after winning in their first game in exactly two weeks.
"I give Woodstock a ton of credit," coach Nate Flannery said after his Knights improved to 14-1 and 4-0 in the FVC Fox. "They played us hard for 32 minutes."
Flannery said his squad practiced only five times during the holiday break. If that wasn't ample down time for Thibeaux, the junior post got more rest in the first half. After picking up her second foul in the opening quarter, she went to the bench and didn't play again until after halftime.
Grayslake North led only 19-14 at the break.
"She makes us go offensively and defensively," Flannery said of Thibeaux. "She's a game-changer."
Knights center Joanna Guhl went on a family vacation during the holiday break, so Flannery started sharpshooting Emily Dugan in her place. When Thibeaux went to the bench, Guhl came in.
"In the first half, we never were able to play those two together," Flannery said of his two 6-footers. "Usually, our go-to thing is getting them touches inside. They work together really well. They haven't played together in two weeks, and it was apparent."
Thibeaux asserted herself immediately in the second half, scoring a couple of times inside, spiking a shot out of bounds, grabbing 3 rebounds and collecting a steal.
The home team led 34-24 entering the final quarter.
"It felt good to get her back in and get everybody flowing together," Ludwick said.
Ludwick was a constant on the defensive end. The senior forward finished with 8 steals, while also scoring 5 points, including a 3-pointer, grabbing 7 rebounds and taking a charge. She also fed Thibeaux for a pair of fourth-quarter buckets.
"We start a pretty big lineup, and people would think that would give us issues on defense trying to match up with guards," said Flannery, whose Knights actually led by as many as 14 points in the fourth.
"But Shyanne has no difficulty keeping up with guards. She plays very aggressively, and I can't think of one game this season where she got in foul trouble. She plays intelligently, and she gets in the passing lanes. She does a fantastic job on defense for us."
Grayslake North used an 11-0 run in the opening quarter to take a 13-2 lead, before back-to-back putbacks by Amber Roberts had Woodstock (6-10, 1-3) within 13-6.
The Blue Streaks committed 9 of their 29 turnovers in the opening quarter.
"North came out with a lot of energy at the beginning of the game and really forced our hand," Woodstock coach Marty Hammond said. "We backed off the intensity level and turned the ball over the first part of the game. But we got our heads on straight, got back in the ballgame, focused and broke through their press rather easily."
Sami Ludwig led the Blue Streaks with 12 points. The 5-11 Roberts grabbed 9 rebounds coming off the bench. Woodstock's starting tandem of Cody Brand (6-0) and Ari Davis (5-11) contributed 6 points and 10 rebounds, respectively.
"We've never had that at Woodstock," Hammond said of his team's size. "We're very fortunate to have three tall girls like that this year that can score."
Kendall Detweiler added 11 points for Grayslake North, while Thibeaux and Guhl each finished with 9 rebounds. Jordyn Bowen (8 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals) hit 4 of 4 free throws in the final minute after Woodstock got within seven points.
"I felt good," Ludwick said of the win. "It took us a while to get in the game."