MAPLE PARK – The Kaneland girls basketball team brought a been there, done that mentality to a perilous, late-game scenario.
The Knights wiped away a five-point deficit in the final 45 seconds of regulation and dominated overtime to defeat Rochelle, 54-47, on Tuesday in Northern Illinois Big 12 East action, looking cool and collected all the while.
The Knights are a veteran team, and it showed.
“I think it was good to have five seniors out on the court,” Kaneland guard Allyson O’Herron said. “I mean, we’ve been playing together a really long time, so it was really easy to know where each other were.”
The Knights trailed, 41-36, when O’Herron canned a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in regulation to bring her team within two points.
Then, after a Kaneland steal, the Knights had possession with the chance to tie. Senior forward Ashley Prost received a pass, made a nifty shot-fake and drove in for the tying basket with 18 seconds to play.
“I like that [move], except I got a bunch of travels at the beginning, so I kind of had to calm down and think about it more,” Prost said.
Prost, who led Kaneland with 16 points, might have set up her successful drive by drilling a few jumpers in the first half.
“That’s why she’s a tough player to guard,” Knights coach Ernie Colombe said. “She usually gets a post player on her. In this case, she had a few different people on her tonight, but you’ve got to respect that shot. You can’t give it to her, and she’s capable of making a quick move and getting a little bit closer. When she gets going, she’s tough to stop.”
Rochelle (12-5, 2-3 NI Big 12 East) had a couple of cracks to win it at the end of regulation but couldn’t, and continued to struggle against the Knights’ amped-up defensive pressure in overtime.
“Our guards are pretty little,” Rochelle coach Kay Dobbs said. “Seeing over the traps isn’t one of our best assets, but really, that’s no excuse. We dribbled into traps, we threw the ball away a couple of times. You just can’t do that against a good team. Kaneland’s got some good players.”
When it was more of a half-court game in the first half, Hubs senior center Michelle Dobbs was in command. She scored 14 points in the half, but was less dominant after the Knights (11-6, 3-3 NI Big 12 East) switched defenses to put an extra body around her as often as possible.
Prost, who sported a swollen upper lip after the game, led the way in keeping a body on Dobbs (25 points, 10 rebounds) on a consistent basis.
The Knights scored the first seven points of overtime, including another O’Herron 3-pointer to make it 46-41 after senior reserve Brooke Harner rebounded a Prost miss.
O’Herron scored 11 of her 14 points for the Knights after halftime, while the 5-foot-5 Harner earned rave reviews from Colombe for her high-energy, nine point, five rebound performance.
“This is my seventh year, and I can say I have never had a kid work as hard as Brooke does,” Colombe said. “We put her on 6-footers, we put her on a team’s best guard, we put her on the other team’s best player, and she does whatever needs to be done. ... She’s a hard-nosed kid.”
Rochelle led, 24-22, at halftime, although the scoreboard initially read 26-22. The scoreboard was off by two points most of the second quarter, an error corrected at halftime.
The win was the second straight overtime decision that went Kaneland’s way after the Knights edged Burlington Central on Saturday.
“It’s huge,” O’Herron said. “It’s totally swung our confidence way up. Two overtime wins, they were thrillers, they were really fun games, so I think that’s got us excited about basketball again because we had a stretch there where we lost a couple games in a row, and we were all really down.
“I think we’re playing like we do again. We’re playing like ourselves.”