BURLINGTON – A 20-point outburst in the third quarter of Monday's third-place game against Woodstock had Crystal Lake Central feeling confident with the final eight minutes remaining.
Erasing a two-point halftime deficit, the Tigers carried a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter of the Burlington Central Thanksgiving Tournament. But during a physical fourth, Woodstock wasn't willing to let Central cruise to an easy win.
The Blue Streaks managed to pull within two points midway through the quarter, but they didn't help themselves at the free-throw line, converting only 6 of 13 attemps in the fourth. It was enough to help the Tigers withstand the Blue Streaks' full-court pressure as they held on for a 48-44 win.
Tigers guard Kelsey Schmitt, Central’s representative on the all-tournament team, was one of four to score double digits. Schmitt, Evelyn Youel and Shannon Ellman each finished with 11 points while Morgan Wozniak added 10 for Central (2-3).
"Halftime adjustments weren't totally complex," Tigers coach Paul Lichtenheld said. "We wanted to get the ball moving a little bit more. We got a little stagnant with it and let them settle in a little bit on defense and it made it hard for us to score."
The Tigers continuously took advantage of Woodstock's turnovers, turning the Blue Streaks' 17 turnovers into 22 points. Woodstock also struggled to keep Central off the offensive glass as the Tigers hauled in 14 offensive rebounds leading to 13 second-chance points.
"We started fighting back because we needed to fight back against the strong defense they were playing against us," Schmitt said. "Our drive to win, because we play them in conference too, we wanted to show them what's coming up in conference."
Each team committed six turnovers in the first half, but the Tigers' foul problems helped the Blue Streaks (1-4) get to the free-throw line 10 times in the first half as they took a 21-19 lead into halftime.
Scoring droughts also didn’t help Central. After scoring the game’s first basket in the opening minute, the Tigers went on a nearly four minute scoreless skid while Woodstock took an early 5-2 lead.
Both teams traded baskets as they headed into the second quarter tied at 9. Foul trouble limited an already short Tigers bench. Two players started the half with three fouls apiece.
Relying on a 2-3 zone defense, Central limited Woodstock forward Cody Brand, who was named to the all-tournament team, to one basket in the first half. Brand finished with 11 points and Brecken Overly scored 10 points to lead Woodstock..
"Our defense fell asleep," Woodstock coach Marty Hammond said of the thrid quarter. "We got out of our defensive formation and they took the opportunities. They're a good team. They have some really nice ball players."