Smiths steadfast effort lifts Lakes past Antioch
She was a longshot to someday help her basketball team win on its crosstown rival's home court. Who would have thought that she would still be playing her senior year, after all those trips to the doctor's office?
Consider that Lakes' Amanda Smith had ACL surgery.
And then a second knee operation.
And then, last February, a third.
"It's hard to keep track (of the surgeries)," said Smith, a three-year varsity player who's had both her left and right ACLs repaired, as well as her right meniscus. She wears a bulky brace on her left knee.
"She's bionic now," Eagles coach Pete Schneider joked.
The smile Smith flashed on Antioch's court Tuesday night was earned.
The longshot hit a couple of long shots early in the third quarter to spark a comeback and, in the end, it was the point guard's free throws that helped Lakes edge the host Sequoits' 38-34 in a North Suburban Prairie Division rematch.
The win allowed Lakes (12-10, 7-2), which trailed by 12 points after one quarter, to avenge a 30-28 loss on Dec. 8 and gave the Eagles their first win ever at Antioch.
"It's very exciting," Smith said after hitting 3 free throws in the final 33 seconds and scoring 5 of her game-high 13 points in the fourth quarter. "It feels really good."
Schneider has believed for a long time that he has one of the best point guards in the conference in Smith.
"She doesn't get flustered," Schneider said. "And she plays every minute. We have a hard time getting her off the floor for a couple of minutes here or there."
Antioch (13-8, 5-3), which lost for the fourth time in five games, led 23-16 at the half and was up 26-16 after Paige Gallimore (10 points) scored on a drive 30 seconds into the second half. But then Smith, who missed all 7 of her shots in the opening half, heated up. She drained a midrange jumper and then back-to-back 3-pointers, from either wing. Her 3 baskets in as many attempts pulled the Eagles within 26-24.
"We lost track of her," Antioch coach Tim Borries said. "Good players step up and make those shots."
Three points by Terese McMahon and a drive by Nicole Mogged capped a 13-0 run. It was a 31-31 game after three quarters.
"Lately, we've been talking about, when you're down, the will to win," Smith said. "There was no way we were going to lose this game. I wasn't going to stop shooting. I think we all came out pretty tough in the second half, knowing that we were down. We knew we had to get back in it."
Smith scored in the opening minute of the fourth, Kelsey Kohler put home a miss and Lakes had the lead for good. The Eagles outscored Antioch 7-3 in the fourth, limiting the hosts to 3 free throws. The Eagles surrendered only 18 points in the final three quarters.
"As a team, we really stepped up and shut them down at the end," Smith said. "In the first half, they got more shots than we wanted. The second half, we cut them off and kept them from driving in the middle."
Abbi McIlhany scored 9 of her team-high 11 points, including a 3-pointer, in the first quarter in helping Antioch build a 16-4 lead.
"We didn't do a very good job of executing our offense (in the second half)," Borries said. "Pete wanted us to speed up and we sped up, but we weren't disciplined enough to slow down right before setting up the offense. So what happens? We force things."
Kohler added 8 points coming off the bench. The junior's health has kept her off the court for most of the season.
"She got the flu, then she had a bad cold and finally they took her tonsils out," Schneider said. "For 2½ weeks, they wouldn't let her do anything. She's going to help us a lot down the stretch."
Before the varsity game, there was a scary moment when Lakes freshman Adrianna Mendoza got hurt. She was taken to the hospital on a backboard.
"Though it was a big win," Schneider said, "our thoughts and prayers are with Adrianna Mendoza."
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