Elk Grove's girls basketball players had a hard time forgetting a pair of losses to Prospect last season.
"Especially the one at Prospect where our problem was finishing out the game in the final three minutes," said Grens senior Diamond Boyd. "We gave the game away. This time we wanted to stay real focused right to the end."
That motivation was evident Saturday night as the host Grens nursed a 2-point with 2:33 left.
They closed with an 11-6 run to top the Knights 46-39 in the Mid-Suburban East test.
Two free throws by sophomore Taylor Will got the Knights to within 35-33 but Boyd answered with a 10-footer in the lane off an assist from 5-foot-6 varsity newcomer Brianna Leach.
Senior guard Kelly Naughton added 2 free throws for a 39-33 lead with 1:57 remaining.
Prospect got to within 4 points twice more (39-35 and 41-37) before the Grens made their final 5 free throws (2 by Melissa Solorio, 2 by Kari Czeszewski and 1 by Boyd) to ice the game.
"We hit our free throws and that's what we had been working on in practice," Naughton said. "I'm really proud of everyone on the team. This was a good win and one we really wanted after last season."
The Grens improved to 10-8 and 4-1 in the East, 1 game behind Rolling Meadows (5-0). Prospect is 11-8 and 2-3.
"Some breaks just didn't go our way," said Knights coach Ashley Graham. "But it was a great game. I was happy with our defensive effort. I thought we really stepped up there, especially in the third quarter, which helped us get back in the game."
Two free throws by Leach (2 steals) had the Grens up 28-21 with 3:32 left in the third period.
"Brianna has been with us less than weeks so to do as much as she did was really great," said Grens coach Kathie Swanson. "She is learning on the fly."
Prospect got a driving 8-footer by Will, a 3-pointer by Kristen Frasco and 6-footer in the lane by Catherine Sherwood to tie the game at 28-28.
Melissa Solorio's driving bank shot gave the Grens a 30-28 lead after three quarters.
"Offensively, I thought we executed but we missed some shots we normally make," Graham said. "Elk Grove is a good club. We play them again in a week and half again so we'll have to be ready."
Will led the Knights with 16 points while Sherwood had 9. Frasco and Trisha Benson each chipped in 5.
Solorio (11 points), Boyd (10 points, 6 rebounds) and Naughton (10 points) led the Grens' offense while Alex Masnica and Czeszewski each pulled down 5 rebounds.
"We knew we had to stay with it at the end and give them a run for their money, so to speak," Boyd said. "We couldn't give them anything easy. This was a big win for us, especially after the two losses to them last season."
Elk Grove made 10-of-12 free throws in the final 6:43.
"I thought we did a really good job maintaining our composure," Swanson said. "And hitting our free throws (19-of-23 for the game)."