Lauren Del Vecchio loves the labor that goes with playing the point in Crystal Lake South's diamond-and-one, full-court pressure.
"It's my favorite position," the 6-foot senior said. "I like to watch their eyes and get up on them. It gets me going and helps get the team going."
There was no doubt about how much defense got the Gators rolling in Friday night's Fox Valley Conference girls basketball crossover. They turned 27 turnovers into 20 points and pitched a third-quarter shutout in a 50-32 victory over visiting Woodstock North at Gator Alley.
"We wanted it to be an intense game and we wanted to have good momentum going into regionals," Del Vecchio said after the Gators won their fifth straight game to improve to 22-6. "We knew today was important to hold them under 40 points and pick up our defensive intensity."
Which was evident except for two spurts totaling 2:46 where Woodstock North (16-12) scored 21 points. The Gators kept them off the scoreboard for the opening 6:22 and for a stretch of 11:17 that started late in the first half.
"We really try to control the tempo of the game with it," CLS coach Kyle McCaughn said of his team's pressure. "What we get out of it, we'll take out of it. I liked the way the kids played big in the press."
Especially with Del Vecchio using her long arms and energy to help trap and speed up the Thunder.
"She's really started to come into her own there now," McCaughn said.
One of four 3-pointers by junior Rachel Rasmussen (game-high 16 points) put the Gators up 19-6. But a 4-point play by Kristy Darling capped a 12-point run that took just 1:40 and cut the Thunder deficit to a point.
"It was a good wake-up call for us," Del Vecchio said after the Thunder hit three straight 3s. "We know we have to work on defending the arc now."
CLS defended everything until early in the fourth quarter when Woodstock North hit a pair of 3s and scored 9 points in 1:06 to get within 36-27. But Del Vecchio (6 points, 8 rebounds) found Kelly Ryan (9 points) for a baseline jumper and scored on a right-side drive to start a 14-2 tear.
Sophomore Carly Nolan had 8 points and 11 rebounds for the Gators. Sophomore Kianna Clark helped shutout Woodstock North scoring leader and 11-point averager Sami Ahr on 0-for-6 shooting.
A Del Vecchio steal provided a fitting end to the regular-season as the Gators get ready for Wednesday's Class 4A regional semifinal when they host Monday's Prairie Ridge-Grant winner.
"We're on a nice streak, so we're certainly happy with that," McCaughn said. "But they know we have some work to do to have us ready for whoever our opponent will be Wednesday."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.