CARY – It had been 20 days since the Crystal Lake South girls basketball team had played a game.
With the way the Gators started against Cary-Grove on Saturday, it would have been hard to guess they were coming off a long layoff. The Gators were in control from the opening minute, and by halftime, they had built an 11-point lead. But the Trojans, led by junior Katie Barker, came back to tie the score in the final minute of regulation and forced overtime.
Despite the comeback, the Gators used a go-ahead 3-pointer by sophomore guard Chanel Fanter to spark them to a 55-49 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division overtime win against C-G.
"I saw that resilience to come back," South coach Kyle McCaughn said. " ... Just that mentality of knowing that, 'OK, we can answer and that's a sophomore (in Fanter) stepping up and saying I can answer.' "
Barker's putback off her own miss with 45 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter tied the score at 44. After getting the ball back with 20 second left, the Trojans (12-7, 3-3 FVC Valley) had multiple chances to go ahead but couldn't knock down a shot, sending the game into overtime. C-G got its first lead of the game, 46-44, on another Barker basket during its first possession of overtime.
However, it was all South (11-6, 3-1) from there. Fanter, who scored a team-high 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to give the Gators a 47-46 lead, which started an 11-3 run. Barker (game-high 25 points) made her fifth 3-pointer of the game to make it a three-point game with 30 seconds left in overtime, but South senior guard Rachel Rasmussen delivered the dagger with a 3-pointer of her own for the final points of the game.
The Trojans were limited to 11 points in the first half, but after a halftime adjustment with an emphasis on attacking the elbow at the free throw line, they outscored South 33-22 in the second half.
"Effort-wise, from start to finish, that was the best effort we've given all year," C-G coach Rod Saffert said. "We had our opportunities. We felt OK at halftime.
"Once they started to play within themselves, we started to attack the interior a little more."
A short bench has become the norm for South. McCaughn used a six-man rotation, which led to major minutes for the starters. It didn't seem to faze the Gators most of the game. Senior forward Sara Mickow played all but one of the 36 minutes and finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Rasmussen also finished in double digits, scoring 10 points including two 3-pointers.
"We had to stay mentally strong," Mickow said. "We knew they were going to come out and had momentum in the end there, so I think we were looking for that to happen (in overtime) and pushed through it and kept our heads cool."