Rewarded before the game with a plaque for scoring her 1,000th career point at Thanksgiving, Antioch senior Amy Reiser relished another difficult accomplishment at night's end.
She and her basketball teammates had just outlasted visiting Grayslake Central 40-27 in a Northern Lake County Conference first-place showdown Wednesday night.
"It was a hard win," Reiser said. "But we got it, and we wanted that."
Antioch sought redemption after losing 60-58 at Grayslake Central on Dec. 6. The Sequoits got it thanks to Reiser's 12 points, 15 rebounds and 5 steals, Ashley Reiser's team-high 13 points, 6 boards and 5 steals, and Erika Gallimore's 9 points and 8 rebounds.
With its 13th win in a row, Antioch (22-3, 9-1) moved into a first-place tie in the NLCC with Grayslake Central (15-7, 9-1), which saw its six-game victory streak snapped.
In a game that saw both teams commit 26 turnovers, the difference was a 13-0 run by Antioch in the first quarter. The Sequoits led 17-9 after the opening eight minutes, and their advantage never dipped below that eight-point margin the rest of the way.
"That first four minutes set the tone for the rest of the way," said coach Tim Borries, whose Sequoits stretched their lead to 13-1 on 2 free throws by Ashley Reiser with 3:33 left in the opening quarter. "It was physical. A win's a win. We'll take it."
When the teams played each other the first time, Ania Barnes led Grayslake Central with 22 points. But the 6-foot junior veteran tore her right ACL the day after Christmas, ending her season. Wednesday marked the Rams' eight game in a row without her.
"She's a great player," Grayslake Central coach Steve Ikenn said. "But other people got to step up, and they have been. We've done well without her, but it's tough when you're down an option that you had relied on. (Antioch's) a very talented team. They're well-coached. You'd like to have some size in there. It helps against the trap. It helps a little outside."
Barnes' absence was especially significant against Antioch, since the Sequoits lack height.
"She's a 6-footer and active, and our tallest girl is 5-8," Borries said. "It would have been a challenge. But we would have been up for it."
At halftime, Grayslake Central had more turnovers (18) than points (11). Despite committing 8 turnovers in the third quarter, Antioch extended a 24-11 advantage at the half to 37-22 entering the fourth.
"I think we just kept our heads in it," Amy Reiser said. "We had fouls when they were being aggressive, but we just kept fighting back."
Lindsay Brust led Grayslake Central with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Amanda Larson had 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
"We've been coming together as a team," Brust said. "It's just been hard with the injuries we've been having, but we're pulling through. Our teamwork will get us through the hardships. This game was just a little bump in the road."
With Antioch leading by the eventual final score, the teams came out of a timeout with 1:27 left. Antioch had the ball, and after Grayslake Central couldn't get an early steal, the visitors allowed the Sequoits to run out the clock.
"The last minute didn't decide anything," Ikenn, who didn't want his players fouling a good foul-shooting team, said with a laugh. "It was the first four minutes."