by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Don’t look now, but the varsity Lady Knights basketball squad is showing measurable improvement from last year, with much of the same crew.
After a productive 3-2 showing at the Immaculate Conception Thanksgiving Tournament in Elmhurst, the Lady Knights have already matched their win total from a year ago at 5-4.
The busy Turkey Week festivities included a 69-31 blowout of Luther North on Nov. 23, followed by a 57-46 win over Elmwood Park on Nov. 24 . Kaneland was then edged by host IC in a 46-41 Friday affair. The gathering’s final matchup featured a 61-28 win over Plainfield South on Saturday afternoon.
On Tuesday night, Kaneland fell in a 53-48 skirmish to visiting East Aurora.
Against Chicago’s Luther North, Kaneland was up 20-3 after one quarter and 37-16 at the half before launching into a 53-25 lead after three.
KHS was 30-for-76 from the field, led by Nicki Ott, Kelly Evers and Tesa Alderman—all with 12 points.
Against former Suburban Prairie Conference mate Elmwood Park, Kaneland found itself trailing at halftime, 23-19, before taking a 40-35 lead after three and then extending the lead in the fourth.
The 38-point second-half effort was fueled by Kelly Evers’ 19-point, 15-rebound game. Ott had 10 points to complement the attack. KHS was 20-for-62 from the field and 14-for-24 from the foul line.
Against the IC opponents, also the Knights, Kaneland used crisp passes and aggressiveness to get opportunities in the field and at the line. Free throws by Emily Heimerdinger and Marina Schafer propelled KHS to a 10-9 lead after one frame.
Baskets by Alderman and Ott gave the Lady Knights a 19-11 lead with 5:31 left in the second quarter, but IC came back to score 10 straight. Ott then hit two free throws, and after IC hit two foul shots of their own with just under a minute left, Ott scored again with 16.7 left to go into the break tied at 23.
The third quarter began hot for the Lady Knights thanks to an Andie Strang basket, and threes by McKinzie Mangers and Alderman. But with the lead at 31-23 with 2:21 left in the third, IC righted its ship and used three baskets to close within 31-30 at the end of the third.
An Emma Bradford foul shot with 3:51 left tied the game at 37 apiece, but Kaneland fell behind and watched the rival Knights hit eight of 13 foul shots to cement the win.
“They’re a good team and an experienced team, that’s varsity basketball. Leading by eight points in the third quarter is nothing, and the game’s not going to end that way. We made a few mistakes here and there but the girls are playing real hard,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said.
Smothering the PSHS Cougars was the key on Saturday, as the Lady Knights were paced by Evers’ 16 points and seven boards. Alderman had 13 points in the win.
Against the Lady Tomcats, Alderman had a team-high nine points, as the Lady Knights were 17-for-50 from the field.
The Lady Knights try to expand their good fortune when Northern Illinois Big XII play begins at Morris on Friday, Dec. 3.