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That year of softball, flag-football experience and tossing the football around in the yard with her twin, older brother and dad paid off for Amy Reiser on Wednesday night.
Note the Antioch freshman's deep pass with Peyton Manning precision to Alexis Duehr late in the fourth quarter of the Sequoits' North Suburban Conference crossover at Libertyville.
On an inbounds play, the righty Reiser rifled the ball from under Antioch's basket and hit a sprinting Duehr, who caught the ball in stride at half-court and raced in for a layup that stretched the Sequoits' lead to 6 with 1:20 left. The play, which was just how the visitors drew it up, all but sealed Antioch's 60-55 win.
"Coach just told me to throw it in," Reiser said. "I've played a bunch of different sports, and I'm used to throwing."
"She put it right on the mark," coach Tim Borries said after his Sequoits wiped out a 3-point deficit after three quarters.
Antioch, which received a game-high 20 points and 5 rebounds from Paige Gallimore, hiked its record to 14-5. Libertyville fell to 6-10 with its fourth loss in a row. Claire Keefe, Libertyville's 5-foot-11 freshman, scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
"She had a lot of energy tonight," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said.
Antioch received a big lift from 5-10 sophomore Kelly Johnson, who scored a season-high 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, despite seeing her minutes diminished due to foul trouble. Johnson hit a 3-pointer, another long jumper and also blocked three shots.
"Kelly Johnson just came up huge," Borries said. "It's funny, because I had to get on her to shoot the ball."
"It's something I got to get in the habit of," Johnson said. "I'm just becoming a guard, so I got to get used to shooting more. ... I think I was just confident."
Libertyville led 33-27 at the break, as Mary Wilterdink's 3 midway through the second quarter jump-started a 17-8 run to end the half. The Wildcats took a 45-42 advantage in the fourth, but Reiser scored a pair of baskets in the first minute of the final quarter to give Antioch its first lead since three minutes into the second quarter.
Reiser, who didn't enter the game until late in the opening quarter, finished with 9 points, including a 3-pointer, and 3 steals. Point guard Ashley Reiser had 8 points, including a 3.
"I like starting, but coming off the bench is good too because I can then help our players pick up the energy," Amy Reiser said.
Wilterdink (12 points) hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to pull Libertyville within 59-55, and the Wildcats then forced a jump ball to regain possession. But they couldn't capitalize. A steal and free throw by Duehr (10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) finally secured the Sequoits' win.
"That's a good victory, especially with not having practice the last four days," said Borries, whose team played last Friday night at small-school power Teutopolis. "We started a little sluggish. I liked the tempo, but we just didn't look sharp."
Credit Libertyville, which hadn't played since Dec. 28 and hadn't practiced since last Friday.
"They were tougher than we expected," Johnson said of the Wildcats. "They're strong, they're quick, they make all of their layups and they can shoot. And homecourt advantage always helps."
Antioch had more stamina in the fourth, however, outscoring Libertyville 18-10.
"You could see we were gassed," Pedersen said. "I think it took us so much energy to do what we wanted to do. The first half we were really strong, and then as the game wore on we got worn out. Our kids were trying as hard as they could, but they couldn't match the energy that Antioch was bringing in that fourth quarter."