Hampshire ends Lady Knightsâ€™ quest in regional semifinal
by Mike Slodki
With every silver lining, sometimes comes a cloud.
In the case of Kaneland girls basketball nabbing its first postseason win since the 2004-2005 campaign, the Lady Knights saw its campaign come to a halt with the very next contest.
The win came over Illinois Math & Science Academy on Monday during the IHSA Class 3A opening round game in a 57-34 affair, but lost to the No. 1-seeded Hampshire Lady Whip-purs on Tuesday, 60-42.
The Lady Knights also dropped a 51-37 matchup to host Sycamore on Friday night in the final regular season game.
Kaneland’s final mark of 2008-2009 is 8-19 (3-11 Western Sun Conference), a two-game dropoff from a year ago.
Kaneland’s playoff adversary was also the team’s first opponent back in Nov., with much the same result. The Whip-purs, who began the season ranked eighth in Class 3A, bested the Lady Knights 59-39 in the season opener.
â€œI canâ€™t fault our effort or anything,â€ KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. â€œThe keys to the game were going to be limiting turnovers on offense and not giving up layups, and we did both. We didnâ€™t get either accomplished and thatâ€™s how they hurt us the first game.â€
Buckets by Alex Dumoulin and Christine Schumacher keyed a 9-0 run to start the game for Hampshire. Katie Hatch’s two free throws with 4:32 remaining closed to within 9-2 in the first before Hampshire went on an 8-2 tear to lead 17-4 with 1:43 to go. Hatch and the rising Mallory Carlson scored baskets as time ran out to set it at 17-8 after the first eight minutes.
High-percentage shots by Alyssa Galvan began the second quarter and closed to within 17-12 with just 34 seconds elapsed in the second, and a Brianna Hurst shot with 4:52 to go cut the lead to 21-15 before Hampshire went on a tear as Dumoulin and Heine hit baskets that highlighted an 8-0 ruin and a 29-15 lead with 1:32 to go. Hampshire led 31-18 going into the locker room.
A Schumacher three made it 38-20 with 6:01 to go, and the Whip-purs kept the press on while converting on opportunities down the floor for a 48-25 lead with 1:42 to go. Schumacher’s two foul shots with no time left in the third doubled the Lady Knights at 52-26.
Kaneland hit 7-of-8 foul shots and outscored Hampshire 16-8 in the final quarter, but it was too late. The final bucket of the season was by sophomore call-up Nikki Ott with 28.4 seconds to go.
The Lady Knights had one last hurrah in a playoff setting, and Carlson led the troops with 12 points, while Galvan added 10. Sara Rose had five steals to go along with eight points. Kaneland went 25-for-53 from the field and 5-for-7 from the foul line. IMSA’s Sapna Patel led the Titans with 12 points.
Rapid-fire baskets by Hatch, Andie Strang and Kelly Evers again gave Kaneland a quick 8-0 lead just two minutes in. KHS went out to a 14-0 lead at the 4:42 mark before IMSA finally got on the board, and the Lady Knights led 20-5 after one. Nine steals highlighted the first-quarter fireworks.
Kaneland continued the barrage in the second quarter thanks to eight points in a row by Carlson. The junior scored eight out of 10 in a stretch that turned into a 33-13 halftime lead.
Two shots by Mallory Huml gave the Lady Knights a 48-18 lead before IMSA closed to within 48-23 by the end of the quarter. CeCe Anderson’s shot with 1:11 to go in the game gave KHS the biggest lead of the game at 55-34.
In the WSC tussle against the Spartans, Hurst led the charge with 10 points, and the Lady Knights were 10-for-15 from the line. The game was deadlocked at 8-8 after one before Sycamore took a 22-17 lead at halftime. Sycamore continued the trend at 30-23 after the third before stifling Kaneland enough for the win.
With the conclusion of the campaign, the Lady Knights say goodbye to seven seniors, including four-year varsity member Hatch, the lone holdover from the Dennis Hansen era.
â€œWeâ€™re going to miss her on the court as well as off,â€ Colombe said. â€œThe seniors were great kids and weâ€™ll miss having them around.â€
Hatch joins Hurst, Huml, injured senior Chassidy Mangers, Anderson, Rose and Galvan as Lady Knights who played their final contest.
â€œWe all worked hard,â€ Hatch said. â€œWe tried our best, even if things didnâ€™t work out the way we wanted to tonight.â€
Photo: Katie Hatch tries to get a shot in the fourth period of the Kaneland girlâ€™s varsity game at Sycamore on Friday. Sycamore won the contest 51-37. Photo by John DiDonna