JOHNSBURG – Trace Chase and her Johnsburg girls basketball teammates tried to not get frustrated when close-range shots kept popping out of the basket Friday against Woodstock.
The Skyhawks' failure to capitalize on their open looks contributed to a deficit that grew to 11 points less than two minutes into the third quarter. But Johnsburg didn't give up, and aided by a diamond press forcing the Blue Streaks to make some bad decisions, the Skyhawks put themselves in position to win.
Chase knocked down two free throws with 28 seconds left in the game to put Johnsburg ahead by one point, and the Skyhawks held on for a 52-48 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division win against Woodstock.
"We really worked together as a team," Chase said. "We pushed the ball down the floor because that's where we were scoring most and keeping our head up when passing. ... It shows that we have a lot of pride in what we do."
Four of Chase's team-high 18 points came at the free-throw line in the final 28 seconds. Johnsburg's performance at the free-throw line kept them in the game, shooting 75 percent (15 of 20). Skyhawks coach Brad Frey described Chase's performance as a "pleasant surprise," but it was exactly what Johnsburg needed as Woodstock featured 6-foot forward Cody Brand, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
"I wish I could figure out how to get to play the first three quarters like they do the last half of the fourth quarter," Frey said. "Whether they're up by a million or down by a million, they always turn it on in the last half of the fourth quarter."
Johnsburg (6-10, 2-2, FVC Fox) took its first lead since early in the first quarter on Kayla Toussaint's 3-pointer with 3:57 remaining in the fourth to go up 43-42. Woodstock (5-8, 1-1) answered on its next possession and went back ahead by one on Brand's two free throws.
That sequence was part of a stretch with six lead changes in the final five minutes of the game.
Sophomore forward Jazza Johns (14 points) scored four points in a one-minute stretch to again give the Skyhawks the lead, 47-44. But continuing the back-and-forth play, Woodstock reclaimed the lead on two baskets from Brand for a 48-47 advantage with 49 seconds remaining. However, once Chase went to the free throw line with 28 seconds left, calmly making both attempts, Johnsburg didn't relinquish the lead.
"I think they did a good job and didn't get frustrated," Frey said of his team missing shots early. "They played intelligently."
The Skyhawks struggled to stop Brand, particularly in the third quarter when she scored nine points. Foul trouble limited her playing time, however, and Johnsburg did its best to exploit that in the second half.
"I thought we should have made better decisions offensively [in the second half]," Woodstock coach Marty Hammond said. "Live and learn, I guess."