McHenry claims victory despite Leyden's persistent seniors
It was senior night for Leyden's girls basketball team.
Even in defeat, as expected, Yaneli Dorado and her teammates never gave up.
The 5-foot-6 senior guard scored all of her team-high 10 points in the second half of the Eagles' 58-36 nonconference loss to visiting McHenry on Thursday night.
Prior to the game, Dorado, Rebecca Johnson, Rebecca Miranda and Gianna Grande were honored as replicas of their jerseys hung on the bleachers behind the team benches.
"Yaneli has played some big minutes for us this season and she really stepped up," said Eagles coach Stephanie Kuzmanic, a former Carthage College and Wheeling High School standout. "She played with heart and passion and really wanted to be out on the court."
Dorado hit a 3-pointer and 2-point basket in each of the last two quarters.
"Even though we were down, we were still working hard," said Dorado, who puts her work in on the soccer field in the spring. "That (McHenry) was a competitive team. But we felt like we could have done better."
While the Eagles struggled with their shooting percentage, McHenry gained control early and never looked back.
"We stayed competitive and kept hustling," Dorado added. "We are not going to give up. Even when we are down, we are always pushing and picking each other up."
Senior guard Kaleigh Johnson picked up the Warriors early, scoring the game's first 6 points, including a steal and layup.
She finished well above her average (10.5 ppg) with 16 points, second only to team leader Elizabeth Alsot, a 6-foot sophomore who averages 13 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Alsot and the Warriors (9-15) benefitted from their full-court pressure in the first quarter.
"We've been struggling to score,' said McHenry coach Rob Niemic, a former Crystal Lake South three-sport standout who played on a travel baseball team directed by John Scotillo, now the St. Viator softball coach. "So we wanted to change the tempo of things.
"We'd been taking a lot of shots and they weren't going in. We wanted to see if we could get some good quality inside shots with our defense creating them."
Despite trailing 12-3, the Eagles (6-12) got back to within 12-7 on Grande's 3-point play (basket off a rebound) with 1:25 left in the opening period.
Junior forward Cherish Sepulveda, who scored 8 points before fouling out, scored a bucket that got the Eagles to within 18-12 early in the second quarter.
However, McHenry went on a 10-2 run and led 28-18 at half.
"We did a good job taking care of the basketball," Kuzmanic said. "But we weren't finishing by hitting our shots. It was a nice night though with the big crowd and the seniors played hard."
Grande finished with 6 points including a 3-pointer while Miranda chipped in 3 points in the first quarter.
Also reaching the scoring column for Leyden were junior Artasia Gusman, sophomore Annissa Lemon and junior Kelly Alvarez, who hit back-to-back buckets in the final three minutes.