McHENRY – For the second straight night to open the season, the Woodstock North girls basketball team held on late to escape with a victory.
Behind a forced turnover and two clutch free throws by Jenifer Crain, the Thunder held on to defeat McHenry, 40-38, in a Fox Valley Conference crossover.
Midway through the third quarter, the Thunder (2-0) were on the verge of breaking the game open. They were at the end of a 16-2 run that turned a five-point deficit into a nine-point lead. That's when the game took a big swing.
McHenry rallied all the way back to take a 38-37 lead with less than a minute to play. A Crain free throw tied the score at 38, giving the Warriors (0-1) one last chance to win the game.
The McHenry inbound pass from under the basketball was tipped by the Thunder’s Rachel Schaffter and corralled by Crain. Crain was fouled and and buried two free throws with 4.8 seconds left. A last-gasp McHenry shot fell short.
“I thought we attacked well, rebounded well and played really good defense,” Thunder coach Mike Lewis said. “The effort was there, and I believe when my team works harder than anyone else we have a good shot at winning, and they did that tonight.”
Crain led the defensive effort for the Thunder. She contributed with five steals, four in the fourth quarter, after not even playing in the third because of foul problems. Many of her steals resulted in points on the other end as she led North with nine points, all in the fourth quarter.
“That’s probably the strongest part of my game,” Crain said. “I’m good at reading and anticipating plays and determining whether to go or not to go for the ball. Sitting the whole third quarter gave me the energy to get it done.”
Ashley Jones scored eight points for the Thunder, and Sara Crain added seven. Schaffter made two 3-pointers to finish with six points.
McHenry was led by two sophomores. Alex Martens had nine points and six rebounds. McKayla Snedeker scored eight points.
“I thought the effort was real good,” McHenry coach Scott Morris said. "We’re going to show some growing pains early with this young team, but I thought we fought hard before the heartbreaking end. I think once we get going we should be OK.”