On a night that nothing came easy for the Kaneland offense, sophomore Bryanna Kigyos came through at just the right time.
Trailing Sycamore by a point in the final minute and on the verge of blowing an 8-point fourth-quarter lead, Kigyos took a pass from Morgan Weber and calmly knocked down a 12-foot baseline jumper, giving Kaneland a 34-33 Northern Illinois Big XII East Conference win.
"Big time," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "She's a great kid, a gym rat. Really, really happy for her stepping up and hitting that shot. She's not a person who looks to score 20, she does all the little things for us. She made a big play at the right time. She's capable of doing that."
Sycamore (6-2, 1-1) had a final chance but couldn't get three attempts to fall, finishing off a 12-of-42 (28.5 percent) shooting night.
Kaneland (6-1, 2-1) had just as much difficulty putting the ball in the basket, making 14 of 49 from the field, also 28.5 percent.
Yet the Knights survived, led by Jeni Weber with 12 points, Morgan Weber with 10, and Grace Ringel's 4 points and 11 rebounds.
"Some of the young girls are stepping into new roles and getting a taste of winning and they like it," Colombe said of his team that played just one senior Friday. "(Sycamore's) effort on defense, they frustrated us. Real happy with a young team grinding out a win. We'll take it. It was an ugly offensive performance us but we found ways to battle back."
Freshman Kylie Feuerbach was responsible for nearly all of Sycamore's first-half offense. She made back-to-back 3s late in the second quarter, cutting Kaneland's halftime lead to 16-15, with Feuerbach scoring 11 and assisting another basket.
The Spartans took a brief 20-16 lead in the third quarter. Jenni Weber answered with a 3 and another bucket, putting Kaneland ahead 21-20. Morgan Weber's steal and layup sent the Knights to the fourth quarter up 25-23.
Morgan Weber's 3 and baskets by Kigyos and Jamie Martens opened up a 32-24 Kaneland lead with four minutes left, the biggest of the night for either team.
The Spartans rallied with 9 straight, capped by a drive by Kate Majerus for a 33-32 lead with: 49 left.
"These girls never quit," Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said. "I think it's a testament to the way they play the game. They could easily have folded with four minutes left and given up but they didn't."
Neither did the Knights. Wickness blamed himself for Kigyos' game-winner as he switched to a 1-3-1 out of the timeout.
Morgan Weber penetrated, drew two defenders, and found Kigyos open on the baseline.
"Once it left her hand I knew it was in," Jenni Weber said. "I'm so proud of her. We are trying to find our identity and this game definitely helped who we are as a team and what roles we have. BK hitting that shot definitely stepped up her role. We're all going to take that energy and practice for Morris."