MAPLE PARK – The Kaneland girls basketball program turned the corner last season with a defensive mindset, but that doesn’t mean the Knights can thrive with an offense in hibernation.
Shooting woes continued to plague Kaneland on Friday as the Knights scored only seven points in the second half of a 39-26 Northern Illinois Big 12 East loss against Yorkville.
The Knights have struggled mightily to score against the better teams in the conference. Kaneland produced a combined 39 points in a pair of losses to rival DeKalb in December.
“I think that we all know what we have to do, it’s just a matter of doing it,” Kaneland senior forward Ashley Prost said. “ ... I mean, [Yorkville] is a good team, but it’s been happening over and over again, so we should be fixing it.”
From airballs to shots that lipped out to nearly every sort of miss in between, the Knights misfired throughout a second half in which they went 3 for 21 from the floor and made no trips to the foul line. Kaneland trailed 22-19 at halftime but tumbled out of contention after Emma Bradford’s driving basket accounted for the Knights’ only score of the third quarter.
“To me, if you’re giving up 30-some points to the opposition, you should be winning those games,” Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. “We’ve got to find ways to score. It’s frustrating because we missed some layups.”
Kaneland (9-6, 2-3 NI Big 12 East) shot just two free throws in the game, which preceded the Kaneland-Yorkville boys game as part of a well-attended doubleheader.
“I think one of the big stats is we only got to the line twice,” Colombe said. “We talk about getting to the line all the time. Obviously that shows we’re not aggressive enough.”
The Knights return several key players from a team that advanced to a 3A sectional championship last year, making their recent struggles all the tougher to digest. Yorkville was one of Kaneland’s postseason victims last year in a hotly contested regional final.
The Foxes (10-3, 3-1 NI Big 12 East) were eager for a measure of revenge in the teams’ first meeting since.
“It was nice to have Kaneland as the first game back [from a holiday layoff] to give us some motivation in practice for the last two weeks,” Yorkville coach Luke Engelhardt said.
Engelhardt instructed the Foxes to pay special defensive attention to Kaneland outside shooter Allyson O’Herron (two first-half 3-pointers) and Prost, but otherwise felt thankful the Knights missed their share of decent looks.
O’Herron and Bradford both had six points to pace the Knights, who are avoiding in-fighting despite the scoring shortfall, Prost said.
“We get along really well – it’s just, something’s got to change,” Prost said. “We have to get through it. We’re just going to go on to the next game and try to fix it.”