Conley scores 23 in Kaneland's senior night win
Chloe Conley had seen three Senior Nights in her varsity basketball career before this year.
On Wednesday it was her turn to walk across the court to meet her parents, exchange flowers and pose for a picture that will likely sustain memories far longer than the score of Kaneland's eventual 48-30 Interstate Eight Conference win.
"It was very emotional," said Conley, who finished with 23 points to help the Knights largely cruise to a comfortable victory. "I feel like we had to all pull ourselves out of that emotional state and get ready for the game. We were all obviously upset, it's our senior season."
Conley missed her junior season with a knee injury, but it didn't stop her from being at virtually every practice and game.
As a freshman, she always remembered being nervous for game time.
"Now, for being up here all four years, it's definitely bittersweet because it's all over [soon]," Conley said.
Kaneland celebrated five seniors: Conley, Nora Crimmins, Sarah Elliott, Kylie Holubecki and Kelsey Modaff.
It's a tight-knit group, as most of those seniors grew up developing in the same youth feeder program.
"We've known each other since middle school," Conley continued. "It's bittersweet because we've all been playing together for so long and so we all have that connection."
Kaneland coach Kelsey Flanagan has enjoyed a front-row seat watching this group develop for several years.
"The fun thing for me is that, outside of Sarah, I coached all their older sisters, too," Flanagan said. "I've known this group since they were real little. They're a group that just likes to have fun, bonds a lot [and] they really care about each other. You can see that on the floor and on the sideline when they're goofing around."
"What stands out for me is [this] is a group that works hard, but has fun is kind of lighthearted with stuff. [Plus], enjoys their time together," Flanagan continued.
Holubecki, who finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds, has been on varsity since she was a sophomore.
"It's kind of crazy to think about [when I started varsity]," Holubecki said. "It seems like so long ago. I remember just being so nervous up as a sophomore."
Despite the emotionally-charged evening, the Knights (5-2, 5-2) harassed Sandwich (6-2, 4-2) into 17 turnovers on the night.
"We talked about pressuring [Sandwich's] ballhandlers before the game and early on, [Claire] Roberts was beating us into the lane and they were making those passes [inside]. We just talked about getting out and pressuring them earlier and not waiting for them to get to the 3-point line where they want to set up their offense," Flanagan said.
Defensively, Kaneland also earned some nice minutes from Olivia Sheehan (5 rebounds) and Taylor Seaton (3 rebounds).
Roberts and Claire Allen each finished with 7 points for Sandwich. Allen had 6 rebounds while Josie Ness scored 3 points while battling foul trouble.
"We were struggling talking and communicating with each other, but normally we're never like this," Ness said. "It's just one bad game. Like we said after the game in the locker room: This is one bad, ugly game. But, we're just going to put it behind us and keep moving forward."
"Every year, you're going to have at least one ugly game," Ness continued. "No team is perfect, where they're going to have amazing games all the time. In practice, we're going to work hard, but we've got to communicate a lot more. We're all just, at practice, going to work harder and come back to bounce back on Friday to try and beat Ottawa."