If there’s good news to accompany Kaneland’s 44-41 loss Monday night at Plano, it’s that the Knights held a fourth-quarter lead against a team that is hosting a Class 3A regional next month.
Take away an 0 for 18 run from the field down the stretch, and Kaneland likely would have defeated Plano. Instead, the Knights lost, 44-41, and again were left scratching their heads about another prolonged cold spell.
On a balanced team where coach Ernie Colombe contends, “I would say we don’t have a superstar,” lapses must be few and far between. While Brittany Kemp (11 points), Caroline Heimerdinger (nine) and Morgan Weber (seven) offered options against Plano, the Knights still faded down the stretch.
Colombe largely has been encouraged with the team’s resilience despite a 9-10 start. Several players assumed bigger roles in the rotation after projected sparkplug Vanessa Gould, a sophomore forward, suffered an early knee injury. Gould since has been lost for the season after microfracture surgery last month.
“She’s a big loss for us, but I think the kids have responded by working hard and trying to fill her role,” Colombe said. “We knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight, but we think we’re getting better.”
In addition to boosting its consistency, Kaneland also seeks to improve its free throw shooting. Recent outings included a 21 for 40 effort in a home win against Northern Illinois Big 12 East rival Morris and going 12 for 24 against Plano.
Kaneland remains optimistic about the conference race with seven NI Big 12 East games remaining, beginning with Friday’s visit to DeKalb.
“We hope if we can keep improving, we’ll be right in the thick of things again,” Colombe said. “There is no easy night in conference. I think it’s still up for grabs right now.”
Vikings await big weekend
Geneva will look to avenge an early-season loss to Upstate Eight Conference River Division-leading Batavia on Friday before facing Champaign St. Thomas More in the Willowbrook McDonald’s Shootout on Saturday afternoon.
With that stretch in mind, Geneva coach Sarah Meadows tabled any “looking ahead” talk until the Vikings handled visiting St. Charles North this past weekend.
“They’ll have plenty of stuff on their lockers and they’ll hear plenty of stuff (this) week,” Meadows said.
Geneva was without dynamic freshman center Grace Loberg in the first Batavia game, as she had yet to be promoted from the lower levels. Loberg quickly emerged into a scoring threat, and only has refined her roles on offense and at the top of Geneva’s 1-2-1-1 diamond press since then.
“We’ve had I don’t know how many practices, but I’ve been able to learn the plays more,” Loberg said. “I knew the first time I didn’t know all of them, so I’m learning more now, and they’re really helping me fit in.”
See you at home
Friday’s game against Marian Central begins a four-game homestand for Wheaton Academy.
The Warriors initially were set to play five home games in a row, but Tuesday’s meeting with Rock Island was postponed, with a make-up date to be determined.
In the groove
Janie McCloughan, Geneva, Jr., F
What she did: Provided the most consistent scoring option for Geneva in Friday's 61-43 victory against St. Charles North, finishing with 21 points.
Sam Pryor, Burlington Central, So., F
What she did: Pryor registered a double-double in Saturday's 54-33 "Pack the Place" victory against Kaneland, collecting 21 points and 10 rebounds.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Liz McNally is a gamer. The St. Charles North senior center, initially ruled out for her final season with a spinal nerve issue, returned to game action Friday at Geneva.
"She's only been back a week and she's trying to get her legs underneath her, but it's nice to get a [6-foot-2] girl," North Stars coach Sean Masoncup said.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Who gets the second helping of bragging rights in the UEC River rivalry series. Batavia visits Geneva on Friday night looking to secure a rare season sweep; the Bulldogs earned their first victory against the Vikings in nearly six seasons in December.
On Saturday, St. Charles East hosts St. Charles North with an eye on its second win against its crosstown counterpart this season.
COACH SLY SAYS
Batavia didn't have to defend Grace Loberg in the first Geneva game this season, but the Bulldogs got an up-close view soon enough.
The Bulldogs followed the Vikings a handful of times down the stretch of last month's Montini Christmas Tournament, giving them the snippet of a scouting report from which to work.
It'll be fun to see how much Friday's game is played out in the post. This could be the first of many encounters between Loberg and Batavia sophomore Hannah Frazier, who had some big moments in this rivalry a season ago.