The Kaneland girls basketball had its undefeated season literally on the line Thursday night in Northern Illinois Big XII East action in Maple Park.
But Sycamore, after tying the game 34-34 with one-tenth of a second to play, was unable to convert its second free-throw attempt.
The Knights made the Spartans pay in the extra four-minute session, scoring the first 8 points en route to a 44-37 overtime victory.
“It wasn’t the position we wanted to be in,” Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe after the Knights extended their season-long winning streak to seven games. “We got lucky there. We got focused and took advantage (of the missed free throw in overtime).”
Kaneland forward Brooke Harner secured a starring role nomination in the extra session.
The senior, who opened overtime with a quick bucket to give the Knights the lead for good, proceeded to make the defining play of the night on the ensuing team possession.
With the Knights attempting the front end of the bonus, Harner made a quick, darting move between two Sycamore players, not only corralling the rebound but also scoring on a putback.
Kaneland (7-0, 2-0) then salted the game away by not missing its next six attempts from the free-throw line.
“We did a good of (boxing out) for four quarters,” Sycamore coach Brett Goff said. “We had a breakdown (on the Harner play).”
The Knights’ latest victory was equally inconceivable without their defensive play.
Kaneland had its sights firmly set on the Spartans’ Bailey Gilbert and Paige Wogen.
“They knew who our go-to players were,” Goff said.
The Knights limited the talented duo to 11 combined points, well below their season averages.
“They’re both capable of 20-point ballgames,” Colombe said.
“Brooke (Harner) did really well on No. 25 (Bailey),” four-year senior Emma Bradford said. “We were told not to help off of them (defensively).”
The opening half was a defensive standoff in general as both teams struggled mightily to find any sort of offensive rhythm.
Kaneland held Sycamore (3-4, 0-2) scoreless for more than five minutes in the opening quarter, but the Spartans were equally stingy in the second quarter.
The Knights could manage only 3 points — all on the same possession with a converted free throw and putback off the second — in the quarter.
Kaneland grabbed a tenuous 14-13 lead at the break and its attempt to create separation in the third quarter was stymied by Lauren Goff draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Sycamore, which was led by Goff with a game-high 12 points, overcame a 5-point fourth-quarter deficit to send the game into overtime.
Ashley Prost led Kaneland with 11 points; Harner finished with 10 points, while fellow starters Allyson O’Herron (7 points), Sarah Grams (6) and Emily Bradford (6) combined for 19 more.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.