CRYSTAL LAKE – There are some nights when a particular player takes over a game. Prairie Ridge center Maddie Drain was that player Monday night during a Fox Valley Conference girls basketball crossover against Crystal Lake Central.
Drain turned into a one-person wrecking crew inside, putting up a game-high 24 points as Prairie Ridge won, 44-25
The Tigers (11-12) started strong, scoring nine of the game’s first 12 points, but soon found themselves behind because of Prairie Ridge’s ability to find the 6-foot-3 Drain on the inside.
Her height advantage allowed Drain to go over two, three and sometimes four Central defenders for easy baskets. That allowed the Wolves (15-8) to take a 19-18 halftime lead, which was extended in the second half, when Drain scored 15 of her 24 points. Drain said that, although she almost outscored Central on her own, credit needed to go elsewhere.
“I hadn’t really thought about that. That’s really weird (almost outscoring a whole team),” Drain said. “I couldn’t have been able to do it though without my teammates. They were the ones getting me the ball, getting me open and giving me perfect lob passes that no one could stop, so all I had to do was finish it.”
Prairie Ridge coach Rob Baker said it took his team some time to figure out what the right plan of attack was.
“We figured out in the second half that was where we’ve got to go,” Baker said. “Every possession, make sure that we got a good look in there with not only Maddie but Kirsten (Voel-Pel). Once we finally realized we’ve got to drive the ball to look to get it in to those two, we were fine.”
The Wolves started playing better defense as well in the second half, holding the Tigers to just one field goal made over the final 16 minutes of play with Central scoring just seven points overall after halftime.
Molly Steffen led Central with nine points off the bench, including scoring the Tigers’ first three points of the second half on free throws with 27 seconds to go in the third quarter. Central coach Paul Lichtenheld said his team tried everything they could against Drain, but it didn’t work.
“She’s tough. We saw three or four teams try different ways to attack her and every game I have seen, it didn’t work,” Lichtenheld said. “We tried what we wanted to try and it didn’t go much better.”