Tag Archives: Ali Liss

KHS emerges the victor over Yorkville, Rochelle

Photo: Brooke Harner (22) tries to control the ball in traffic on Friday, with teammates Marina Schaefer (33) and Ali Liss close by. Photo by Ben Draper

Girls’ wins take sting out of OT loss at BC
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The girls basketball crew from Kaneland found what it liked in at Yorkville on Friday, and had what it liked, but lost it on Saturday.

A 20-point cruise was just the ticket over host Yorkville, 48-28, while a sizable halftime lead up in Burlington eventually slimmed up. An overtime and a late putback sent KHS packing with a 49-47 overtime loss. It was the second loss of that kind in three games, as the Lady Knights dropped a two-point result to Plainfield East on Dec. 30 in the finals of the Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic.

However, the Kaneland group still finds itself in good standing with an 11-6 record and a 4-1 Northern Illinois Big XII tally after a win in Rochelle on Tuesday, 38-30. That marked the first win on Rochelle’s home court in five years.

“Even though we didn’t have games go our way at the end recently, we’ve won a lot of close games earlier,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We just had to compose ourselves and play well at the end.”

Facing Rochelle, the Lady Knights were lifted by eight members in the scoring column, and led by Kelly Evers’ eight points.

The Lady Knights took advantage of accurate passing that usually found its targets in the forms of Evers, Ashley Prost and Emma Bradford.

“That just happens all the time in practice,” Evers said. “Not just with Emma, Ashley or I, but with the whole team. There’s open looks and magic happens.”

KHS went out to a 10-8 lead, and increased to the lead to 10 points in the second quarter, thanks to a down-low look by Evers and a bucket by Sarah Grams. Kaneland was ahead 22-12 at the break.

After ending the third frame up 30-20, the margin shrunk to 33-29 with three minutes to go.

A key steal by Ashley Castellanos stunted Rochelle’s game plan and Grams and Liss made it to the foul line for insurance free throws until game’s end.

Against Yorkville, Lady Knights basketball was paced by Prost’s 21 points, which included 12 in the first half. Prost also added a co-team-high six boards, matched by Evers.

KHS held the Lady Foxes to 11-for-48 from the field.

KHS went out to a slim 13-12 lead after the first eight minutes, and clamped on the pressure to go up 26-15 at the halftime break.

In the third quarter, Kaneland outscored YHS 14-5 to go up 40-20, setting the stage for the final result.

On Saturday afternoon at the home of the Lady Rockets, things looked to be going well for KHS as it went out to a 13-4 lead after one and maintained a 23-14 lead at the break.

BC closed within 34-29 after the third quarter before deadlocking KHS at 40 going into the extra frame.

With two seconds remaining in overtime, Burlington Central’s Camille De La Cruz put back a missed shot to give the hosts the close win.

KHS was 11-for-48 from the field on Saturday, and 15-for-23 from the charity stripe.

The loss for Kaneland was despite the best efforts of Evers, who scored 10 points and brought down 14 boards. Prost had a team-high 11 points.

Looming on the horizon for the varsity girls: a meeting with visiting Streator on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Depth, knowledge of system charges girls basketball in ‘11-’12

Photo: Lauren Zick (left) and teammate Ashley Castellanos are two new additions to varsity girls hoops that look to make an impact. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sixth-year coach Ernie Colombe has the table set for success when it comes to KHS girls basketball.

Now it just needs the mix of experience and youth to add something positive to the table.

Despite a first-round exit a year ago, KHS improved to 13-15, up from nine wins in 2009-10.

The lower class levels had an astounding combined record of 49-1.

Plus, the Lady Knights return four players that found key minutes a year ago.

Adding the new additions, the Lady Knights’ depth could be a strength, one that’s integral to any hope to improving a 3-7 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.

“We’re pretty excited and the kids have been working real hard,” Colombe said. “We have a roster of 14, and right now we have maybe 12 that can start. We have a lot of depth, and it brings new challenges. We’re just trying to find ways to utilitze everyone.”

The girls in the program have been playing the same type of basketball for three years now, making things easier on the coaching staff.

“We have the girls playing the same way now. In past years, what would take us a week of practice to learn now just takes us one day,” Colombe said.

Returning to the fold is senior center Kelly Evers.

“She averaged around 11 points last year. Last year, we had girls that would score a bunch in different games, and she was our go-to player for much of the season, and I think we see that happening again. What we’re seeing is the girls that haven’t played with her before are learning how to use a post player,” Colombe said.

Returning teammates of Evers are returning junior starter Emma Bradford, junior Lexee Guerra and sophomore Marina Schaefer.

“Lexee’s stepped up and become more vocal this year, and she’s part of the guards that are stepping up. Emma’s improved and is a player to watch. Marina has improved, and the biggest thing is that she’s playing with confidence,” Colombe said.

Making the leap to varsity from the vaunted sophomore squad of a year ago are girls like guards Sarah Grams, Aly Harner, Ali Liss, Lauren Zick and Ashley Castellanos.

Looking to score some minutes are junior Allyson O’Herron, already inserted into the starting lineup early on, along with fellow starter Ashley Prost at forward. Seeing time at the forward spot are Brooke Harner and Alex Lyons, while newcomer Liz Barnette plays at the post.

“We got a big group of new players that can contribute. Girls like Grams and Liss and Brooke Harner have played well in practice and Prost has played well at the ‘4’ spot,” Colombe said.

Colombe hesitates to provide a desired record for the upcoming campaign.

“I don’t set a benchmark of winning and losing, because I think that’s a byproduct of several things. What we can control is trying to start an identity. I’d like to see what we are defensively, first and foremost.

The Lady Knights began this past week at Immaculate Conception and have their first non-tourney game on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at East Aurora. The first NIB-12 game is Friday, Dec. 2, vs. Morris.

KHS girls basketball having fun all summer long

Photo: Lexee Guerra, shown here going for a layup in Rosemont, Ill., is one Lady Knight seeing quality minutes during summer league play. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Summer has been no time for play if you’re Kaneland High School girls basketball.

Coach Ernie Colombe and crew have been keeping busy with shootouts in Genoa-Kingston, Sterling, Morris, Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and have one scheduled in Ottawa, Ill., this week.

The Lady Knights are also involved in a summer league housed by DeKalb High School, and last Thursday, participated in an exhibition contest against Plano at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., resulting in a win.

“We’ve played tough competition, and we’ve seen improvement. We’ve got the girls lifting and around 30-plus girls are with us right now. You want to see that kind of commitment,” Colombe said.

Colombe can speak from first-hand coaching experience on the benefits of summer league action. The team won eight of nine in a stretch last year, with the 30-game slate going a long way to an improved record in 2010-11.

“Kelly Evers is making her way back from injury; she’s our lone senior. The junior class is full of real competitiors,” Colombe said.

Stats and game scores generally aren’t kept for summer league action, but the summer-wide progress and trip to Rosemont are part of a larger picture.

“We definitely sold it to the girls as a unique opportunity, and they got to be on the floor when the Sky had their shootaround before their game,” Colombe said. “We hope the (sixth-season WNBA franchise Chicago) Sky keep doing something like this.”

The Lady Knights also dealt with a different environment.

“Like the boys when they would go to the United Center, the girls were faced with having their shooting be different. You normally have a wall by the basket, but at the Allstate Arena, you shoot toward seating.”

Colombe has the girls shooting it out all over the area, and thinks KHS has just scratched the surface.

“Evers and Ashley Prost are making their way back from injuries. We haven’t had a regular lineup since we started. Evers will be a force. Lexee Guerra has an improved shot. Emma Bradford could have a breakout year. Marina Schaefer, Ali Liss, Brooke Harner, Prost, Morgan Newhouse and Sarah Grams all play defense and play both ends, which is what we want,” Colombe said.