Nothing to it.
That free throw that steady-scorer Kathleen Felicelli shot in the second quarter of Carmel Catholic's season opener Monday night hit absolutely nothing. Which is so unlike the three-year varsity starter and three-sport star.
Those free throws that Felicelli nailed in the fourth quarter of Carmel's 42-40 win over Grayslake North at Mundelein?
Nothing to it.
"I just had to step up in that moment," said Felicelli, who, earlier, couldn't conceal a sheepish grin after she air-balled a foul toss. "We needed that so I put a little more pressure on myself."
So much for that earlier missed free throw. When the pressure was on, Felicelli delivered, as usual. She hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 22 seconds, with her last extending the Corsairs' lead to 42-38 with six seconds to go.
Felicelli finished with a game-high 20 points.
"She's crazy like that," Carmel coach Kelly Perz joked. "She's that way in practice, too."
Cassidy Kloss added 10 points for the Corsairs, while 6-foot Emma Rappe grabbed 8 rebounds. Felicelli and Leah Lach had 7 boards apiece.
"I think Carmel is going to be really good," Grayslake North coach Nate Flannery said. "They have depth and bigs across the board. We went with our small lineup at one point, and I wasn't sure how we were going to get a rebound if the ball didn't go in."
The 5-10 Kloss (10 points) nailed a left-corner 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in the third quarter, and Carmel took a 30-27 advantage into the fourth. Kendall Detweiler's 2 free throws early in the fourth pulled Grayslake North within 30-29, but the Knights never got closer, as Felicelli answered with a pullup jumper on the baseline and Nicole Bitter sank 2 free throws.
"We had first-game jitters today and we still came out on top, so I think that we can only get better," Felicelli said. "I think we're going to have a great season because we practiced so hard in the off-season and had a great summer."
Carmel 6-foot-1 sophomore center Emily Casale contributed 3 points and 3 blocked shots coming off the bench. Senior Alexa Svoboda, junior Sam Melillo and junior Karoline Yacono also substituted in and played strong minutes for the Corsairs. Yacono hit a clutch fourth-quarter shot.
"I thought our bench played really well tonight and gave us a spark," said Perz, whose team is expected to be without returning senior Paige Gauthier (ankle) until after Christmas. "They took care of the ball and made some layups. When your starters aren't necessarily having their best game, it's really nice to get that lift off the bench."
Carmel committed 22 turnovers and shot 11 of 42 from the floor.
"I was happy with an ugly win," Perz said. "It's better than a pretty loss."
Grayslake North returning all-area senior Brittney Thibeaux scored 4 points in the opening quarter. But she picked up 2 fouls in the second quarter and couldn't keep herself out of foul trouble. The 6-1 forward had 5 points and just 2 rebounds when she fouled out with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter and her team trailing 37-34.
"I'm not sure she played four minutes in the whole game," Flannery said.
The Knights' other returning all-area player, Detweiler, scored a team-high 12 points. She made all 8 of her free throws but shot just 2 of 14.
Grayslake North freshman Sidney Lovitsch started and had 7 points and 8 rebounds, while junior Samantha Villwock totaled 7 steals and 3 points coming off the bench. Junior forward Ella Swanson had 6 points, beating the final buzzer with a shot inside the paint.
"First game of the year, you got a lot of things you got to get cleaned up eventually," Flannery said. "I didn't think We shot very well from the free-throw line (14 of 22), and we turned it over quite a bit (25 times). It was just miscommunication sometimes."