Gotter sparks Dundee-Crown with effort inside
When Dundee-Crown's Katelyn Skibinski scored in the final seconds to seal a 43-37 win over Barrington in the Class 4A Huntley Sectional championship game on Thursday, Makayla Gotter -- like she was all game -- was ready for whatever happened next.
"I was ready to get the board if she missed it," Gotter said. "That's what we worked on in practice."
Gotter wasn't needed for cleanup duty that time, but it's hard to see the Chargers winning their first sectional title since 2003 without the unselfish play and hustle of the 5-foot-9 senior forward.
Gotter finished with only one point on a free throw in the second quarter, but led everybody with 15 rebounds and two blocks.
When D-C junior Alyssa Crenshaw, the team's top scorer and rebounder, went to the bench with two fouls early in the first, it was Gotter who switched defensive assignments and went toe-to-toe with Barrington 6-foot senior Taylor Thompson, a University of Missouri-St. Louis commit.
Gotter didn't flinch.
"Even though I didn't score that much, I know my role on the team, and I know we can go far with all the different roles we have on the team," Gotter said. "I usually just focus on my defense. I try and rattle other players."
She certainly played the part well.
Gotter gobbled up 10 rebounds by half, with eight coming on the offensive end. Chargers coach Sarah Miller said Gotter set the tone early. The Chargers carried a 20-18 lead into the break.
"She just throws her body on the line for us," Miller said. "She stepped up and had to guard one of their best players because that is her role. She has to step up for her teammates. She's done that for us in so many big moments this year. I'm so proud of her."
"She's not a stat-driven kid. It shows with the rebounds and the hustle plays. Her defense tonight and aggressive rebounds, that really did set us up to get some great second chances."
Gotter and Crenshaw normally go against each other in practice to prepare for a physical game. The Chargers focused on that even more so this week with a Barrington team with six players listed at 5-10 or taller.
Miller and assistant James Lopez even throw themselves into the mix at times.
"Me and Makayla are always pushing each other and trying to make each other better," said Crenshaw, who led all scorers with 19 points. "(Lopez) comes in, too, and he pushes us around and battles with us."
On the bench for the last 5:45 of the first quarter, Crenshaw appreciated the work of Gotter.
"She was a beast on the boards," Crenshaw said. "She had every rebound and was always going for everything. She was everywhere for us tonight. We needed her."
Gotter celebrated the sectional championship with her teammates, posing for pictures and signing songs.
No moment was too big for Gotter or her teammates on Thursday.
The Chargers enter Monday's South Elgin supersectional against Lake Park with a program-record 29 wins, a win away from their first state tournament appearance since 1984.
"It was crazy," Gotter said. "There were moments I thought I was going to cry or something, but I kept my composure. We all do a good job not letting the nerves get to us and just staying focused on the game, one play at a time."