Feuerbach, Sycamore too much for Kaneland
Kaneland did everything it could to overcome the loss of leading scorer Jenni Weber Thursday night in the Class 3A Sycamore championship game.
Spartan sophomore standout Kylie Feuerbach was another story.
With Weber sidelined with an ankle sprain suffered in Saturday's regular season finale, the Knights -- as they did in Tuesday's semifinal win over St. Edward -- once again saw their role players step up, this time led by freshman Chloe Conley.
But Feuerbach proved to be just a little too much, scoring 19 of her game-high 28 points in the second half as Sycamore came from behind for a 50-43 win in their packed and loud home gym.
Sycamore (24-5) advances to the Class 3A Genoa-Kingston sectional Tuesday against Marengo.
"We have nothing to hang our head about, Sycamore is an excellent team," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "We wanted to come here and win regardless of who we had. I think a lot of teams would have come in here and folded but we gave them a good battle tonight. It's a tough way to go out especially with Jenni being hurt but our kids rallied and played well."
Kaneland finishes the season 25-5 -- three of those five losses to Sycamore.
In addition to her 28 points, Feuerbach grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked 5 shots and had 3 steals and 3 assists.
"We knew they were going to come back 10 times stronger without her (Weber). We had to be even more ready for this game," said Feuerbach, who had written the words "attack" and "rebound" on her hand and said she looked at it often during the game.
Feuerbach certainly attacked and rebounded in the second half. After Kaneland took an 18-16 lead at halftime, Feuerbach started the second half with a free throw, assisted Kate Majerus for a 3-pointer, then drove baseline for a basket, hit a 3 of her own and drove for another score and a 27-20 lead.
"I always make sure to attack because it's something I've been focusing on lately," Feuerbach said. "At the beginning of the year I was taking open shots instead of driving. Ever since I put it on (my hand) it's helped. It helps me get mentally prepared."
Kaneland didn't go away, scoring the next six points on a steal and layup by Hannah Armin, Conley's basket while being fouled and Jamie Martens' drive to stay within 27-26 heading to the fourth quarter.
Already without Weber, the Knights caught another bad break when their only other senior Martens picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter. She was on the bench for the first minute of the fourth quarter when Sycamore scored 4 quick points for a 31-26 lead.
Martens re-entered and made a pair of free throws, the first of her 11 fourth-quarter points. Kaneland never caught Sycamore, getting within 33-32 on Conley's free throws with 4:58 left before Feuerbach again helped Sycamore pull away, this time swishing a corner 3 with 2:12 left to make it 40-33. She also hit 6 of 8 free throws to keep her team up by at least 4 points despite late 3s from Martens and Armin.
"The game is starting to slow down a little for her. Last year you saw some glimpses of what she's capable of doing. I still think she hasn't scratched the surface as how good she can become," said Sycamore coach Adam Wickness, who also was sad not to see Weber play this week.
"It stinks, I feel so bad for her, as a senior to miss the whole regional and state playoffs," Wickness said. "You can't feel bad enough for her."
Martens led Kaneland with 17 points and 9 rebounds, Conley scored 11 points and another freshman Abby Peeler had 8 points and 11 rebounds.
"The two we are losing are really, really good but they rubbed off on a lot of these younger kids," Colombe said. "Our future is bright. It is sad to see Jenni and Jamie go but they have set the bar high for the younger kids. We were really proud of the way we played, the season we had."