Srodulski's 26 leads Prospect past South Elgin
Prospect senior Summer Srodulski has applied to 17 colleges but she is still not sure if will play college basketball.
However, she is sure she will study engineering.
On Monday, it was Knights coach Matt Weber and assistant Antonio Gardner who designed a well-scripted game plan for South Elgin (17-4) and the 6-foot-1 Srodulski obliged with a game-high 26 points to help lead the Knights (16-4) to a 56-49 triumph at the MLK Showdown at Batavia High School.
"We understood that we had a mismatch because they were a smaller team (no one taller than 5-9)," Weber said. "So we wanted to put an emphasis on getting touches for Summer and I thought our team did a nice job finding her when things were breaking down."
It was the Knights' defense and rebounding (led by 12 boards for Srodulski) that helped break down the talented guard-oriented Storm, which was led by Raina Yang's 15 points.
The Knights held South Elgin to 11 points in the first 12 minutes of the second half to overcome a 24-23 halftime deficit and then withstood three 3-pointers from Zoie Lewis, Ella Winterhalder and Yang in the final 1:27.
"We focus a lot on defense," said Srodulski, who made 6 of 8 free throws. "It's all about trusting each other. We are a defensive-oriented team. That's what we are known for. I think we executed that in the second half to get the lead."
Back-to- back buckets by Emily Skoog tied the game at 8-8 but the Storm went ahead 14-10 after one quarter on consecutive 3-pointers from Winterhalder (9 points) and Chloe Kmiec.
South Elgin gained its biggest lead at 18-11 on a layup by Caroline Croft (7 points) with 5:43 left in the first half.
"We got down early but I thought we just continued to have a help-you-teammate mentality on defense," Weber said. "That's (South Elgin) a tough team, a well-coached team and a team that's going to put a lot of pressure on you defensively and overall I thought we handled their pressure pretty well."
Prospect gradually cut into the lead and trailed only 24-23 at half, thanks to a 15-foot pullup jumper by Kathryn Keehn (4 points) with 41 seconds left.
Junior Yang's 3-point play put the Storm in front for the last time at 30-29 with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
Prospect went on an 8-0 run and led 37-30 following Katie Neal's 3-pointer with 2:48 left in the period.
The Knights started the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run, getting a 3-pointer and free throw by Jess Reizer (9 points) and a driving layup by Srodulski for a 43-31 advantage.
Yang's third 3-pointer got the Storm to within 52-47 with 32 seconds left but 4 free throws by Srodulski sealed the verdict.
Andie Will (7 points) hit two big 3-pointers for the Knights.
"Prospect has to be a top 10 or 15 team in the area," said Storm coach Dan Mandernack, whose team is three wins away from a seventh 20-win season in his ninth year. "They beat Hersey (No. 3 in Class 4A). They're very similar to us except they have a couple of taller players. They shot a lot of 3s and press like us.
"I told our kids before the game that win, lose or draw, go out there and have fun. It's an honor to be playing that good of a team and what a great opportunity this is for them to learn. No matter what happens, we are going to get better. And we did.
"We had the lead at halftime and I don't know how many people would have thought that. But then at some point we got killed on the rebounding side. The kids fought their hearts out. At the end of the day, we can't get taller but we can stay tough, and strong. At the end with our defense/offense pressing stuff that got us a little back in the game so it was a great experience for the kids. We learned we are good."