Sycamore only leads once against Kaneland, but it’s enough

Sophia Klacik had hit one 3-pointer just before halftime to give Sycamore a positive as it went into the locker room to talk things over at halftime trailing Kaneland by 8 points on Wednesday night.

It was her next one that they were all talking about for a while. It gave the Spartans their first lead of the game with 1:26 remaining.

The Spartans didn’t score again and neither did the Knights so it proved to be the game-winner in a 46-45 win in a key Interstate Eight Conference game.

“She’s stepped up and she’s hit a lot of big shots for us this year,” Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said. “She’s put in so much time into shooting and being in the gym and has trained relentless for the past four years. She’s going to Augustana next year, and during the recruitment process I had a couple coaches reach out and you can’t say enough good things about a kid like that.”

Kaneland dropped to 14-7, 5-1 and Sycamore improved to 13-7, 5-0.

Klacik’s 3-pointer seconds before the second-quarter buzzer pulled the Spartans to within 25-17. They were her only other points in the game.

“Hitting shots always gets me going,” she said. “That was great. It definitely helped hype everything up.”

The Spartans struggled to make shots in the first half while the Knights took advantage of 8 second-chance points, most coming on 3-pointers from Lexi Schueler and Kendra Brown. Each scored 10 points to lead the Knights. Sam Kerry had 7 points and 7 rebounds for the Knights and Kyra Lilly made two 3-pointers and finished with 6 points.

“It seems it’s either one of two things that happens when we come out out of the gate,” Wickness said. “We either roll in through the first quarter knocking down shots constantly or we go cold and dig a hole for ourselves. It’s been our M.O.”

Madison Schrader’s putback gave the Knights a 31-19 lead with 3:35 left in the third quarter.

Sycamore freshman Quinn Carrier’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter cut that lead to 35-32.

Sycamore senior Lexi Carlsen scored 11 of her game-high 19 points during the comeback.

“They’re a team with a ton of seniors that are calm and collected,” Kaneland coach Brian Claesson said. “When things are down they don’t really panic or anything like that, then they got hot in that fourth quarter and hit five 3-pointers on us.”

Klacik hit the big one. While Wickness explained that Klacik is a special kind of selfless person, she showed why as she wanted to talk more about her teammates than the shot she made that ultimately won the game.

“She’s selfless almost to fault,” Wickness said. “If she was a little more selfish she could probably be even a little bit better than she is. She is a fantastic player.”

As for what Klacik had to say about her teammates: “I think this was great, especially for the people who come off the bench, the sophomores. And how about the freshman Quinn (Carrier) picking us up and getting good shots and getting good defensive stops and getting us going.”

Carrier broke up Kaneland’s last scoring chance as the Knights gained possession after the Spartans missed two free throws with 9.2 seconds remaining.

Carlsen’s 3-pointer with 4:38 remaining pulled the Spartans to within 44-43.

Kaneland freshman Amari Meeks split two free throws with 2:18 left to make it 45-43. which remained until Klalick delivered right in front of her bench.

Sycamore senior Monroe McGhee had 9 points and 8 rebounds and sophomore Grace Amptmann had 8 points.

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