CRYSTAL LAKE – Cary-Grove was at its best offensively against Crystal Lake South when the Trojans first looked inside.
When the Trojans tried to match the Gators from 3-point range, C-G’s offense started to struggle.
“They know when we’re in a rhythm and get inside touches before we start jacking up the outside shots like we did in the beginning of the game, we’re a pretty good team,” C-G coach Rod Saffert said. “Every team has stretches where they look really good, and then they start getting away from the game plan. We just needed to get back to playing our game.”
C-G went back to its original game plan and was rewarded with 32 points combined between junior Maddie Jannusch and senior Katie Sowa as the Trojans escaped with a 44-42 Fox Valley Conference victory Friday at the Swamp.
With the win, the Trojans (17-10, 11-5 FVC) guarantee themselves second place in the FVC. Dundee-Crown also has five conference losses and finishes the regular season against Jacobs on Saturday.
Jannusch finished with 17 points, including nine in the third quarter, on 6-of-10 shooting to go with a game-high 14 rebounds. Sowa had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Trojans.
“Maddie’s become a force for us,” Trojans coach Rod Saffert said. “Maddie’s a pretty darn good ball handler. I can put her inside. I can put [Katie] Sowa inside. She’s become a really important force inside.”
“We figured if we got touches inside, we could either kick it out for the open shot or play high-post and low-post inside,” Jannusch added. “I think we were able to get the middle open well.”
South and C-G traded leads nine times.
The Gators took the lead with 3:50 remaining on freshman Ava Sevcik’s second 3 of the fourth quarter, but Sowa answered 25 seconds later on the other end with a 3 to give C-G a 42-40 lead.
Brooke Kuffel made two free throws for South (7-20, 2-14) with 48.3 seconds remaining, but Bailey Steinkamp came up with a loose ball for the Trojans underneath their basket and was fouled with 25.1 seconds to go.
Steinkamp, a 5-foot-7 guard, made both free throws for a 44-42 lead. Maddie Bush got off a desperation shot at the buzzer, but her 21-foot shot missed the mark and Sowa grabbed the defensive rebound to seal the win.
“I think in the end, [C-G’s] experience kind of took over there,” South coach Mark Mucha said. “They got a few offensive rebounds, a late foul at the end, and they capitalized on those things.
“We got a shot off, but not the shot we wanted. We kind of passed an opportunity I thought we could have had. But in the end, our kids played hard and they played with heart. It would have been great to have a win, but I hope they can carry this into next week.”
More than half of South’s field goals were 3-pointers. Senior Lauren Schoen had 17 points, making five 3s, while Sevcik (eight points) added two 3s, and Maddie Bush sank one. Brooke Kuffel tossed in six points and seven rebounds.
Schoen knocked down four 3s in the second quarter, scoring 12 of South’s 13 points. South trailed, 20-19, after two quarters when C-G’s Elsa Larry hit a 3 at the halftime buzzer.
Schoen pointed to rebounding as a major difference. C-G had 30 rebounds to South’s 22.
“I think it came down to [C-G] outrebounding us,” Schoen said. “They got a lot of second-chance points. Hopefully, we’re going to learn from that, go into regionals, and work on some rebounding over the weekend.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Cary-Grove, jr., G-F
The 5-foot-10 junior dominated the inside for the Trojans, scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds.
8: 3-pointers by Crystal Lake South, more than half of the team’s 15 field goals.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
Crystal Lake South’s Lauren Schoen celebrated senior night with five 3-pointers. The 5-foot-8 guard sank 4 of 6 from 3-point range in the second quarter alone, scoring 12 of her team’s 13 points.
Cary-Grove 44, Crystal Lake South 42
Cary-Grove 9 11 17 7 – 44
Crystal Lake South 6 13 11 12 – 42
CARY-GROVE (44): Jannusch 6 5-7 17, Sowa 5 3-4 15, Steinkamp 0 2-2 2, Getka 0 1-2 1, Morris 1 0-0 2, Larry 1 0-0 3, Raupp 1 0-0 2, Howdeshell 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 11-15 44.
CRYSTAL LAKE SOUTH (42): Schoen 6 0-1 17, Bush 2 0-0 5, Sevcik 2 2-4 8, Kuffel 2 2-2 6, Sulikowski 1 0-0 2, Trier 2 0-1 4. Totals: 15 4-8 42.
3-point goals: Cary-Grove 3 (Sowa 2, Larry), Crystal Lake South 8 (Schoen 5, Sevcik 2, Bush). Total fouls: Cary-Grove 18, Crystal Lake South 17. Fouled out: Schoen (CLS).