Hampshire ends Lady Knights’ 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.

“I can’t fault our effort or anything,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “The keys to the game were going to be limiting turnovers on offense and not giving up layups, and we did both. We didn’t get either accomplished and that’s how they hurt us the first game.”

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.

“We’re going to miss her on the court as well as off,” Colombe said. “The seniors were great kids and we’ll miss having them around.”

Hatch joins Hurst, Huml, injured senior Chassidy Mangers, Anderson, Rose and Galvan as Lady Knights who played their final contest.

“We all worked hard,” Hatch said. “We tried our best, even if things didn’t work out the way we wanted to tonight.”

Photo: Katie Hatch tries to get a shot in the fourth period of the Kaneland girl’s varsity game at Sycamore on Friday. Sycamore won the contest 51-37. Photo by John DiDonna