Sycamore hands Kaneland its 2nd straight defeat
For most of the first quarter, the Kaneland girls basketball team held Sycamore to four points and owned a lead during the teams' Interstate 8 game Wednesday.
But the Sycamore offense picked things up, and the Spartans pulled away from the Knights for a 59-36 win.
"Definitely a better second half than a first half," Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said. "We came out and executed better. One of the No. 1 keys we had coming into this one was finding our rhythm offensively. I thought Kaneland did a good job of slowing the game down and making sure there were enough stoppages in the first half that we really didn't find our rhythm offensively."
Faith Feuerbach banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter, pulling Sycamore to within 9-7. That 3 kicked off a 19-5 run to put the Spartans (5-1, 3-0 I-8) ahead.
After Kaneland (2-2, 2-2) pulled to within 23-19 in the third quarter on a field goal by Kylie Holubecki, Sycamore went on a 12-1 run and never looked back.
"I was happy how we came out in the first half," Kaneland coach Kelsey Flanagan said. "We talked about ball pressure and getting over screens and not letting them start their offense with dribble penetration. But then they came with more physical play in the second half, and we didn't match it."
The game was a physical one in which both teams spent a lot of time at the foul line -- there were 21 total fouls in the first half, and the teams were a combined 18 of 25 from the free-throw line in the first half.
Flanagan said the Knights did a good job early on defense, clogging the lane and attacking the ball in the air.
Feuerbach said the Spartans came out and changed their mentality as the Knights worked to slow the tempo of the game.
"We all knew we could play better as a team so we just slowed it down a little bit," Feuerbach said.
Wickness said he talked to the team briefly at halftime, but let his experienced players -- four of the five starters have are in at least their third year on the varsity team -- take the lead.
"We came out in the second half real energetic," Feuerbach said. "We had a big talk at halftime because we didn't come out how we wanted to in the first half. So we're working on that but I think we played a good game overall."
Holubecki led all scorers with 21, with 11 of those coming from the line. She also had five of Kaneland's nine total field goals. Chloe Conley had eight for the Knights, including the team's only 3-pointers.
Feuerbach led the Spartans with 16, Evyn Carrier added 12, and Ella Shipley and Lexi Carlsen added 11. Carlsen, a freshman for the Spartans, scored almost all of the bench points total in the game -- both teams combined for 16 off the bench, 14 for the Spartans.
Both teams were coming off a loss -- Kaneland at Rochelle on Saturday and Sycamore at Burlington Central on Monday.
"It's just a next-game mentality every time," Flanagan said. "You get maybe one practice maybe in between, work on what you need to work on, and move on to the next one. You have to have a short memory with losses, not dwell on them."
The Spartans are at Sandwich on Friday, while the Knights host LaSalle-Peru.