MAPLE PARK – The Kaneland girls basketball team was able to keep its emotions in check during the finale of Kristina M. Colombe Hoops For the Cure Shootout Saturday night.
The tournament held special meaning for the team since it was named this year for Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe's wife, who passed away last summer from gallbladder cancer.
The Knights held a comfortable 11-point lead to start the fourth quarter against Batavia. Kaneland’s smothering defense held the Bulldogs to single digits in the first three quarters.
Batavia made a fourth quarter run, but the Knights held on for a 42-33 win.
“It was an emotional day for our team, obviously and I’m glad they persevered,” Colombe said.
The Bulldogs started the final quarter scoring eight points to Kaneland’s two and pulled within five points, 32-27, with five minutes remaining.
Jennifer Weber three pointer from the left wing at the 4:40 mark ended the run and extended the Knights lead to 35-27. Weber led all scorers with 14 points.
Batavia (15-11) narrowed the gap to five again with an Allison Newberry free throw but that was as close as the Bulldogs would get.
Neither team scored a basket the rest of the way, but Kaneland (22-4) sank 7 of 10 free throws to keep the lead.
“They are a good team. They made a little run and I think there were a few things. We took a couple of shots that weren’t the greatest decisions and we also gave them a few second chance opportunities,” Colombe said. “But we persevered. I think we also got a little tired because we played last night.”
“This game meant a lot. This is our shoot out and it’s dedicated to our coach’s wife so it was important to us,” said Jamie Martens who scored 11 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
The Knights limited Batavia to five first half baskets and led 22 to 12 at the half.
“In the first half we rebounded really, really well especially given their size,” Colombe said. “We need to do that for all four quarters.”
By the numbers: Neither team canned many 3-pointers. Batavia sank one and Kaneland had two.
Beyond the stats: Kaneland starters scored all but 8 of the team points. Freshman reserve Amber Peeler scored six and sophomore Jillian Mitchinson notched 2.
They said it: “When we started this I wasn’t expecting it to in year four to be changing the name to honor my wife,” said Colombe. “Peter Goff (Kaneland Athletic Director) did that and it was touching.”
Up next: The Knights travel to Sterling on Tuesday for a Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover game.