Kaneland overcomes adversity, beats Yorkville
Kaneland could not have lost junior guard Keely Noel at a worse time during Friday night's Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference game against Yorkville.
Noel hobbled off the court as Yorkville junior Lily Guerra, who was just returning after missing a month with a knee injury herself, made a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game midway through the fourth quarter.
The Knights fought through that adversity though, briefly surrendering the lead before answering it with a 10-1 run to survive, 43-35.
"We just stayed locked in and got the lead back," Kaneland sophomore Kelsey Modaff said. "Keely does a lot for our team so we just had to fight to get rebounds and push the ball and keep the game going."
Kaneland (14-7, 5-2) was able stretch the Yorkville defense behind Modaff's 3-point shooting early as she knocked down a pair in the first quarter to build a 13-6 lead.
Yorkville (8-12, 3-4) got a huge boost from Guerra who spearheaded a 12-0 run in the second quarter that didn't end until Modaff connected again with 1:23 left in the first half to pull the Knights within 18-16.
"We all know our roles and try to do them," Modaff said. "Sometimes if I miss a wide-open shot, I might think about it for a bit, but (coach Ernie Colombe) tries to keep building my confidence up and tells us to keep shooting. I like to play with a lot of energy and to be ready to knock down open shots."
The Knights struggled through 10 turnovers in the first half, but had only one in the third quarter to pull ahead 31-25.
"We talked about it after the game and it's hard for the players to understand in the moment," Colombe said. "On the one hand you don't want to take away aggressiveness in trying to make a play, but some of those long passes shouldn't have been made so we had to make adjustments."
For the most part, Knights sophomore Chloe Conley was a nonfactor offensively in the first half, scoring all 11 of her points in the second half where she was a game-changing force.
Her 3-pointer with 2:52 left in the third quarter followed a driving layup from Bryanna Kigyos and allowed the Knights to take the lead for good at 38-34.
"Most of the time we are more constant with our scoring, but sometimes we get on runs like this and go from there, and that motivates us even more," Conley said. "I think we had two good teams competing against each other and both were really motivated and had moments."
Noel led the Knights with 9 rebounds before going down with an ankle injury. She didn't return to action but walked off the floor after the game.
Modaff had 12 points, Conley added 11 and Kigyos had 7 to lead the Knights while Guerra had 19 to lead all scorers for the Foxes.