OTTAWA – The Kaneland girls basketball team began the season with a seven-game winning streak, but lost to DeKalb and Antioch earlier this week before venturing south to begin play in the Ottawa Holiday Tournament Saturday.
Adding to the win column was all that was on the Knights' minds as they entered Pool B of the tournament with Geneseo and Sandwich. Geneseo defeated Kaneland in a closely-contested, 37-33 morning game before the Knights snapped a three-game slide with a 60-30 rout of Sandwich.
“We ran into a little skid,” Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. “We started 7-0, lost three in a row and bounced back to win (against Sandwich). We have been playing pretty solid defensively and we're trying to get more consistent offensively. We struggled in the first game, then the second game we come out and put 37 up in the first half.”
Senior forward Ashley Prost led the 8-3 Lady Knights against Sandwich with 16 points. She took advantage of the lax Indians defense and pounded the ball inside for layups and shot 4 of 6 from the free throw line.
When the lane did close, Prost stepped out a few feet and knocked down two mid-range jumpers.
“I think in the second game we just started out stronger, we really wanted to win and we played together well as a team,” Prost said. “The passing definitely improved and we were looking for inside the lane shots also, but if we didn't have them, we kicked it back out more in the second game then the first game.”
Against Sandwich, the Lady Knights' starters were not the only ones to knock down their shots as the bench came out on a scoring spree, as well.
Junior forward Marina Schaefer came off the bench to score eight points, six of which came in the first half before Colombe played deep into his bench as the game got away for the Indians.
Schaefer not only helped offensively, but played tough inside defense, forcing Sandwich to turn the ball over or shoot tough, contested shots.
“I just tried to keep the offense moving and work the ball to get everyone open, and if I was open for a good shot, I'd take it,” Schaefer said.
“Coach always talks about fronting the girl and making sure when your on a girl she never scores. I just tried to accomplish that for him.”
Colombe said his defense has shown up all season and is a big reason the Lady Knights started out 7-0, while an inconsistent offense and tough competition resulted in the three-game slide, which began with Tuesday's 31-17 loss to Northern Illinois Big 12 East rival Kaneland.
He hopes a new desire to score inside will overshadow Kanelands' off nights and lead to many more Ws as the season rolls on, including a rematch with the Barbs this coming Tuesday.
“We don't hit shots all the time,” Colombe said. “Our defensive effort has been pretty consistent, but we have to find a way to get points when our shots are not falling. One of the things we're trying to do is to get more points in the paint – we're not really big – but it's something we're working on and hopefully by the end of the year we'll be able to accomplish that.”