The Antioch girls basketball team was facing a challenge Friday night that all the teams in the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic were facing -- its fourth game in four days.
Add to that the Sequoits were coming off a tough semifinal loss to Illiana Christian the night before and a subpar first-half performance Friday against St. Francis in the third-place game.
Some teams might have packed it in and called it a night. Antioch didn't, and with a 42-point offensive showing in the second half prevailed over the Spartans 69-63.
"Early on, we didn't have any energy. It was a tough loss against Illiana. At halftime we talked about having energy, more movement on offense. They dug deep.
"It was a nice game. They could have easily given up," said Sequoits coach Tim Borries.
Antioch (9-3) showed it was a different team immediately at the start of the second half. Amy Reiser, who finished with 18 points, hit for a basket that pulled her team to within 45-31. That started a 12-2 Sequoits run that was finally interrupted by St. Francis' Antwainette Walker's three-point play. Ashley Reiser, who finished with 31 points, ended the third with two free throws that cut the Spartans' lead to 50-45.
Antioch didn't let up against the Spartans (6-6) as the fourth quarter got started. Erika Gallimore hit the period's first basket. Immediately after, Ashley Reiser stole the ball and got it to Taylor Feltner for a layup and a foul. Feltner's free throw tied the game at 50. Amy Reiser's layup with 6:59 remaining gave the Sequoits a 52-50 lead it held the rest of the way.
Antioch led by as much as 10 with just less than three minutes to play. The Spartans fought back until the end and Walker's basket with 45 seconds remaining got St. Francis back to within 67-63, but Antioch held. Walker finished with a team-high 16 points, 11 coming in the second half.
"We played with a chip on our shoulder," Ashley Reiser said. "We came back and showed what we have. We know we can still get to a higher level. We're getting there."
Borries praised the senior leadership shown especially during the second half by the Reisers, Gallimore and Megan Kelly. He also praised the defensive play of sophomore Piper Foote.
"She's all heart and energy. She did a great job," he said.
The evening had started strong for St. Francis. The Spartans led 16-14 after the first quarter and added to it with a 25-point showing in the second to lead at halftime 41-27. The Spartans shot a solid 15 of 35 from the field in the first 16 minutes.
A key stat for the game was St. Francis committed just 3 turnovers in the first half. That number jumped to 13 in the second half.
"They need to learn to never get complacent no matter what time of the game it is or how much we're ahead," said Spartans coach Melissa Taylor. "Antioch was incredible with their press and teamwork. They're scrappy."
Two other Spartans finished with double-digit points -- Isabel Bettag with 14 and Mia Mazza with 13.