Sycamore gets back on track vs. Kaneland
Playing for the first time since its first loss of the season, the Sycamore girls basketball team went off against Interstate 8 foe Kaneland on Tuesday, scoring 24 of the first 29 points and knocking off the Knights, 42-32.
"I knew that would serve as a motivating factor to come out and look a little better tonight," Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said of his team's 53-51 loss to Lincoln Way-West on Saturday. "I thought they got after it on defense, especially in a first half, holding a team to seven points. It just tells you they were ready to go, ready to show Saturday was just a little bump in the road."
Sycamore (23-1, 11-0) held the Knights (15-11, 9-3) scoreless for a 9:37 stretch between the first and second quarters, turning a 6-5 game after 5 minutes into a 24-5 lead for the Spartans.
Ally Plank broke the scoreless skid for Kaneland with a jumper with 2:49 left, as the game went into halftime 24-7 -- Sycamore didn't score in the final 4:56 of the second quarter.
"We came together and played really good team defense tonight," said JaKiya Thompson, who had seven rebounds and a big fourth-quarter block on a 3-point attempt by Taylor Seaton. "We really focused on playing together. I feel like we defended the ball really well. We knew we had to guard our person so we didn't have to focus on help defense as much, and I think we executed that perfectly fine."
Kaneland coach Kelsey Flanagan said the Knights talked about taking controlled shots against Sycamore's length. She said that didn't really happen in the first half.
"We were off-balance, shooting a lot of stuff off one foot, trying to go around their length," Flanagan said. "That just wasn't working. Credit them for some of that, but also it was some mental mistakes from us in that regard."
The top two scorers for the Knights came off the bench, with Plank scoring seven and Kendra Brown adding six. Brown also had a team-best five rebounds as Sycamore finished with a 43-24 edge on the boards.
"We just came out real flat there and we didn't box out," Flanagan said. "We were getting crushed on the boards. That was a difference maker."
Faith Feuerbach led the Spartans with 17 points, while she and Lexi Carlsen each grabbed nine rebounds. Ella Shipley scored nine for the Spartans, who entered their second week without 6-4 post Evyn Carrier.
Wickness said Carrier would attempt to practice Wednesday, and if so she may return in a limited capacity at home Thursday against La Salle-Peru.
Wickness said the team responded exactly how he thought they would after suffering their first loss of the year -- a game they trailed by double digits but had a chance to win on a last-second shot.
"I think we just had to take it as a learning lesson," Thompson said. "We're not always going to have our 'on' games. It's upsetting we did lose our game, but we took away from it, we came back and we had an amazing game tonight."