Kaneland battles but can't stop Sycamore
Sidelined the last few games with an ankle injury, Sycamore freshman guard Lexi Carlsen could hardly wait to return to the basketball court.
Carlsen came off the bench to score 8 of her 13 points over the final 2 ½ minutes of the third quarter, giving her team some extra breathing room during the Spartans' 61-43 Interstate 8 Conference victory over Kaneland (8-3, 8-3) Friday night in Maple Park.
Sycamore led 42-38 when Carlsen drained 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, and the 5-foot-8 dynamo added a driving layup in the final minute as the Spartans (12-2, 10-0) extended the margin to 50-40 entering the fourth quarter.
"She's pure cold-blooded," said Spartans coach Adan Wickness. "That kid eats, sleeps, and drinks basketball. She had been hurt the last couple games so you could tell she was chomping at the bit to get back in the game."
Kaneland coach Kelsey Flanagan admitted that Carlsen's hot shooting came at an inopportune time for her team.
"She got it going for them," said Flanagan. "That was definitely the momentum shift late in the third quarter."
Sycamore, led by Faith Feuerbach (15 points) and 6-4 sophomore center Evyn Carrier (9 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocked shots), went on an 8-1 run in the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter to seal the decision.
"They have a ton of weapons, inside and outside," said Flanagan. "All of their players can shoot the 3. It's tough to contain the drive, rotate over and get everybody covered."
Kaneland was held without a field goal for the final 10-plus minutes.
"We were trying to sub a bit more frequently, trying to keep people fresh but by the time you get to the fourth quarter, it's hard to keep that energy and momentum because they're pressuring you all over the place," said Flanagan.
Senior 5-10 forward Kylie Holubecki led the Knights with 18 points and 7 rebounds while battling toe-to-toe inside with Carrier.
"It's difficult giving up height," said Holubecki. "You have to make sure you're strong with the ball and use shot fakes to get around the hands. Going straight into her is definitely not going to work."
Holubecki's performance earned rave reviews from both head coaches.
"Kylie's competitiveness -- she's never going to quit," said Flanagan. "She has no fear."
"Holubecki was tough tonight," said Wickness. "She was finishing well in the paint. She's got great touch and good length. She's a great player."
Kelsey Modaff and Olivia Sheehan each added 6 points for Kaneland.
"I was happy with our effort tonight and proud of the way we hung with them," said Flanagan. "Sycamore is the team to beat in our conference."