Wauconda downs Grayslake North in battle of stars
Wauconda senior guard Jessie Pakaski and Grayslake North junior forward Peyton Gerdes hooked up for a memorable girls basketball battle on Wednesday night.
The sparse crowd was treated to a matchup of future college players in Grayslake, with the game gaining more intrigue and interest due to both players guarding each other on numerous possessions.
But Wauconda junior guard Kelly McDonough stole the show, scoring 6 of her 9 points in final two minutes to lift the Bulldogs to a 42-35 win in Northern Lake County Conference play.
The Bulldogs (14-9, 8-4) extended their series winning streak over the Knights (10-17, 4-8) to seven wins in a row, including three victories this season.
McDonough was quiet for the first three-plus quarters, but her game came alive when it counted the most. She was also a big presence on the boards, finishing with 8 rebounds while picking up her last rebound off a Gerdes' miss with just under a minute left.
Pakaski led the Bulldogs with 20 points and 6 rebounds and Kaitlyn Jerard grabbed 9 rebounds. Gerdes ended with a game-high 27 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks.
McDonough said she found a rhythm in the final minutes, scoring a basket to give the Bulldogs a 34-32 lead with 1:45 left. She made all 4 of her free throws in the final 76 seconds.
"I struggle a lot with my confidence in games, and it takes awhile for me to get going, but that's why I have a lot of confidence in Jessie," McDonough said. "It feels good to put points on the board and help us win."
Wauconda coach Jaime Dennis said McDonough is an instrumental player in the Bulldogs' success this season.
"Kelly took a lot of shots in the beginning just finding herself open, but she just wasn't hitting them," Dennis said. "She showed a lot of confidence in the fourth quarter. Those four free throws were huge, and a big swing in the game.
"Kelly is usually the quiet player who doesn't have a whole lot of stats that jump out at you, but she makes a huge difference for our team. We were without her for awhile in December. She's a game-changer for us. It's nice to see her score."
Unfortunately, the Knights nearly copied the same blueprint from Monday's 71-32 loss at Deerfield in which Gerdes scored all of their points in the first half.