Cary-Grove dumps McHenry for 6th straight win
Cary-Grove won only three conference games in 18 tries last season.
The Trojans doubled that total with their sixth win in a row after defeating McHenry, 53-29, Monday in their Fox Valley Conference girls basketball game.
Cary-Grove guard Emily Lukowski scored 17 consecutive points for the Trojans (6-1, 6-1) between the first and second quarters, which helped turn a 12-11 deficit after the first quarter into a 24-15 lead at halftime.
McHenry (2-6, 1-5), meanwhile, was held to 3 points in the second quarter on an Ashley Wachter 3-pointer.
Lukowski finished with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. She made four 3-pointers and converted two three-point plays.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's not a player I would have over her, as far as the type of kid she is, as far as how hard she plays, as far as her skill level and what she brings to the table," Trojans coach Tony Moretti said. "I can put her in the post, I can do any number of things. I can't say enough good things about her."
Lukowski and the Trojans carried over their strong second quarter into the second half, with senior forward Lauren Passaglia tossing in 8 of her 14 points in the third. She also seemingly had her hands on every loose ball or missed shot, finishing with a game-high 15 rebounds.
"The first half, it was slow for everyone," Passaglia said. "At half, we knew we had to bring some energy and get everyone going. I definitely feel like it was a team effort when we came out in that third quarter ready to go. The ball just always seemed to find its way into my hands."
Lukowski also felt the team starting to click in the second half.
Paige Hoscheit and Maddie Scharrenberg finished with 7 points each for C-G.
"I think everyone just woke up," Lukowski said. "Our posts started making shots, [Kate Larry] started driving to the basket, and everyone just got a little fire into their step and wanted to win. It's a lot different from last year. It's hard that it's so short, but we're trying to make the most of it."
Because of the COVID-19-shortened season, the FVC schedule was cut from 18 games to nine, with teams facing each other only once. Now, the Trojans are playing for one of the top seeds in the Fox Valley Conference Tournament, which starts Saturday.
The Trojans (6-1, 6-1) play at Huntley (6-2, 5-1) on Friday in the regular-season finale for both teams. That game could determine who gets a first-round bye in the tournament.
Through Monday's games, both C-G and Huntley trail conference leader Burlington Central (9-1, 6-0) by a game in the loss column. Huntley still has to play at Prairie Ridge on Wednesday, while Burlington has one conference game left on its schedule (Wednesday at McHenry).
Warriors coach Rob Niemic took responsibility for Monday's loss.
Alyssa Franklin led the Warriors with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting. Wachter tossed in six points on two 3s.
"I've done a bad job as a coach the last couple of weeks, and it's showing," Niemic said. "This is probably the worst coaching job I've done since I've been here. And it's disappointing, because I love our seniors. I love our group of kids.
"But give Cary-Grove credit. [Passaglia] was phenomenal. That's the way you should play inside. And [Lukowski] did what she wanted when she got the ball. You give her that many touches, she's going to make you pay."