Kaneland's girls basketball team is making a habit of playing -- and winning -- close games.
After coming from behind in the final minute to beat Sycamore Friday, Kaneland overcome a 5-point fourth-quarter deficit Tuesday to pull out its second straight Northern Illinois Big XII East thriller, this time 57-55 over Morris.
Junior Jamie Martens made the game-winning free throws with 3.7 seconds left. Mya Shannon got a good look at a 30-footer for Morris at the buzzer, but her shot rimmed out.
"That was another good test for us," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "Credit to them, they took it to us early. Good news is our kids bounced back again and kept playing. We feel there's some things we can fix, but I loved the poise."
Neither team led by more than 7 points in a game with 17 ties or lead changes.
Trailing 13-11 after one, Kaneland (7-1, 2-1) took its biggest lead at 24-18 in the second quarter before Morris tallied the final 5 points of the half to pull within 24-23 at halftime.
Morris (7-4, 2-1), who got 50 of its 55 points from Shannon (19 points), Meghan Smith (18) and Meghan Jurak (13), quickly went ahead in the third quarter and built its biggest lead at 37-30 on six straight points from Smith.
Kaneland battled right back with a jumper by Jenni Weber, a 3-pointer from Morgan Weber, and a pair of inside scores by Addie Ringel to close the quarter on a 9-3 run and pull within 40-39.
The teams traded baskets early in the fourth, Jenni Weber sinking a pair of 3s to offset long balls by Smith and Ashley Hood. Kaneland still found itself down 52-47 with four minutes to go.
After struggling all night with 27 turnovers against Morris' full-court press, the Knights turned to a press of their own. Jenni Weber came up with the ball after Bryanna Kigyos deflected a pass, and Weber scored while being fouled, cutting the Morris lead to 52-50.
Grace Ringel sank two free throws to tie the game, and she followed by taking a pass from Martens and scoring for a 54-52 lead with 1:40 left.
A free throw from Jenni Weber put Kaneland up 55-52 before Jurak hit her third 3-pointer of the night, tying the game at 55 with :21 remaining.
Colombe called time with :6.8 left. Martens took the inbounds pass and was fouled as she started to drive. She swished both ends of the 1-and-1.
"We were thinking they would switch to man and we wanted to get an isolation for Jamie," Colombe said. "We felt if we got her going to toward the hoop she would either draw a foul or find someone open. She's a great free throw shooter."
Martens did a little of everything for Kaneland with 4 points, 5 assists, 5 steals and 5 rebounds.
"Jamie is a huge game-changer for us," Grace Ringel said. "She got the ball inside which was huge for us."
Ringel, a 6-foot-2 junior, was on the receiving end of many of those passes, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Her twin sister Addie came off the bench with 7 points and 4 boards.
"Grace, if she puts up those numbers, we're going to be tough," Colombe said. "She's coming around, she's working really hard. So is Addie. They push each other in practice."
The loss was the third for Morris this year by 3 points or less. Morris made seven 3-pointers in the game but only got to the free-throw line 4 times, sinking all of them,while Kaneland went 14 for 19 at the line.
"She went on a nice run," Morris coach Kate Carey said of Jenni Weber's 12 second-half points. "She hit some outside shots we should have had coverage on and didn't. Turned the momentum. I felt the whole rest of the game we were playing catch-up."