Hononegah pulls away from Crystal Lake South
Crystal Lake South girls basketball coach Mark Mucha doesn't think his team is that far away from putting it all together.
Performances such as Tuesday against Hononegah gives the eighth-year coach plenty of reason for optimism.
"We just talked about playing good teams against Palatine, South Elgin and Hononegah, and our goal should be to be that good team, too," Mucha said. "We've worked so hard. We're only two steps away and our effort is there.
"Now we've just got to put it all together."
South hanged around with Hononegah over the first two quarters, taking a lead at the half with two free throws. But the Indians took control with a 7-0 run to start the third and pulled away for a 61-40 win in the last game of the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving Tournament.
South started the round-robin tournament with a big win over Streamwood and lost its next three to Palatine, South Elgin and Hononegah. South Elgin ended the tournament with a 51-38 win over Dundee-Crown to win the tournament title.
South (1-3), which had struggled to solve the press of Hononegah for much of the first half, trailed by as many as 10 in the second quarter. The Gators, however, responded with a 12-0 run and took a 19-17 lead with 1:05 remaining in the quarter. Junior guard Kree Nunnally scored eight of the Gators' 12 points during that stretch.
After an Anna Wiggs' jumper, Nunnally scored on a putback and then hit on runner in the lane to tie the game. She added a layup for the lead.
After a bucket by Hononegah's Kamryn Abney and an empty possession by South, Mackenzie Resch grabbed a defensive rebound and was fouled. She made both free throws with no time showing on the clock, giving South a 21-19 lead at the break.
Hononegah (2-1), however, took control in the second half and started to look inside to senior forward Geneva Hann.
Soon after, the Indians' shots started to fall from the outside. Emma Clark had a team-high 21 points and made four 3-pointers, while scoring 16 points in the second half. Hann tossed in 12 points, with nine points in the last two quarters.
"We went into the half with the lead and then we kind of pulled back," said Gators junior forward Hannah Massie, who had 14 rebounds. "I feel like we need to come back even harder after the first half. We're all hustling, though. We're probably the most passionate team ever."
South was led by Nunnally with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Wiggs added eight points and a pair of 3s.
Mucha felt his team's effort in the first half was outstanding.
"Out effort isn't always rewarded because we miss a lot of easy points or we have great effort and then we turn the ball over," Mucha said. "We're not putting it all together yet. Not everything is clicking but it's getting there."
South was 4-6 during the COVID-19 shortened season and graduated three of five starters. Nunnally thinks this team can take the next step.
"I think we have potential this year to win a lot more games," Nunnally said. "This is just the start. We're kind of getting in our rhythm. I just want to share my experience and help any way I can. I think we're going to be really good this season."