Austin, St. Francis close out Kaneland

St. Francis guard Riley Austin possesses the ability to ignite her team on a nightly basis.

The junior opened the third quarter Thursday against Kaneland with eight consecutive points to kick off at 19-0 run. Austin, a second-year varsity player, fired a 3-pointer, converted consecutive layups and hit a free throw in the busy stretch.

“She’s just a smooth player,” St. Francis coach Jeff Gerdeman said of Austin following a 44-36 win over the Knights. “It’s fun to watch her: She can drive, she can shoot [and] she’s very skilled. She has a ton of potential. She’s not even peaking yet so that’s the beautiful thing is how good she can be.”

Austin, for her part, is building her confidence with her shot and getting teammates more involved.

“I think we have a really good team this year,” Austin said following her 18-point performance. “I’m trying [to take advantage of that] as much as I can. I’ve been trying to get more confident with scoring a lot. I’ve been trying to [also] pass to my teammates because we have a lot of talent on this team this year. I think it’s the best we’ve been in a lot of years. ... For me, I just need to work with them better so we can have a better team overall.”

After Austin’s streak, her teammates picked it up from there. Téa Rubino (11 points) hit a layup, plus the foul shot, and also followed with a 3-pointer to build the 32-16 advantage for St. Francis (8-3). After Kaneland’s sixth turnover of the quarter, Spartans guard Dolly Smith (five points) hit a layup and converted the ensuing free throw for the 35-16 lead.

The Knights broke an ice-cold streak with 1:34 left in the quarter on a layup from Emily Kunzer, who then followed up with a nice assist up to Kendra Brown for a 3-pointer to make it 35-21 St. Francis to end the third quarter.

“[The third quarter success] was a combination of defensively, we played man-full and got them out of rhythm,” Gerdeman said. “Offensively, we were moving the ball. We were breaking their press a little better so that was a great third quarter.”

Kaneland eventually made it a 37-27 game with 4:25 left on a Madison Schrader layup. Spartans junior Arianna Naples answered with a 3-pointer, but the Knights blitzed the Spartans on a 9-0 run capped by Brown’s 3-pointer with 37 seconds remaining to shave the deficit to four points at 40-36 St. Francis.

Austin hit a layup, plus the free throw, and went 1 of 2 at the free throw line to ice the game.

“...Fourth quarter was probably on me,” Gerdeman said. “I should’ve kept [the pressure and intensity up], so that’s probably on me. But, the girls did hang on and finished it.”

Kaneland (8-3) was paced by Brown’s 12 points and four rebounds. Lexi Schueler had nine points, three rebounds and four assists, while Sam Kerry had seven points.

“Credit to St. Francis. I think they came out that third quarter with a 19-0 run,” Kaneland coach Brian Claesson said. “Every loose ball, they were getting, every offensive rebound. ... I think a lot of teams could’ve quit there and the girls didn’t so that was [good to see].”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.